Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope

All Glory, Honour and Worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

2 February 2 0 1 2 The Presentation/Meeting of our Lord Jesus Christ
Feast of St Gabriel, New Martyr of Constantinople - St Jordan, New Martyr St Agathadoros of Cappadoccia

Festal Apolytikion - Presentation

Here,

Keharitomeni Theotoke Parthene. Ek sou gar anetilen O Ilios tis Dikeosinis, Hristos O Theos imon, Fotizon tous en skoti. Evfrenou ke Si, presvita dikee, dexamenos en agkales ton Eleftherotin ton psihon imon harizomenon imin ke tin Anastasin. (3)

Hail,O

Lady Full of Grace, O Virgin Theotokos, for Christ our God, the Sun of Righteousness has risen from Thee and He Illumined those in darkness. And Thou, O Righteous Elder, be glad in heart, receiving in Thine Embrace the One Who Liberates our soul and bestows on us Resurrection. (3)

Festal Kontakion – Presentation of Christ - By St Romanos the Melodist - TONE 1

O Mitran Parthenikin Agiasas to Toko Sou ke hiras tou
Symeon Evlogisas, os eprepe, profthasas ke nin esosas imas, Hriste O Theos. All irinefson en polemis to plitevma ke krateoson Vasilis, ous igapisas, O Monos Filanthropos.

Thou Who has Sanctified by Thy Birth a Virgin Womb
and fittingly Blessed the hands of Symeon, Thou art come, O Christ our God, and on this day has Saved us Grant Peace to Thy Commonwealth in times of Battle, and Strengthen the Orthodox People whom Thou has Loved, O Thou Who alone Loves mankind.

Matins Gospel According to St Luke 2 : 25 – 32
St Symeon’s Meeting of Christ & His Hymn of Deep Gratitude

Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Symeon, who was Just and Devout, and who was awaiting the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon Him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see Death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he went, by the Spirit, into the Temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law, he took Him up in his arms and Blessed God and said: “O Lord, now Thou art letting Thy servant depart in Peace according to Thy Word! For my eyes have seen Thy Salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples – a Light to bring Revelation to the Gentiles, and the Glory of Thy People, Israel!” 8 ST SYMEON WAS ONE OF THE 70 MOST ERUDITE St Symeon represented all humanity who waited for HEBREW SCHOLARS WHO WERE CHOSEN FROM “the Consolation of Israel” – the long awaited ALL TWELVE TRIBES TO MAKE A TRUE AND Messiah – the Divine Saviour sent to Redeem us by PROPER TRANSLATION FROM THE ANCIENT God the Father. HEBREW HOLY SCRIPTURE INTO HELLENISTIC HAVING BEEN KEPT ALIVE UNTIL THE AGE OF 325, ST GREEK , which was the written and spoken SYMEON FULFILLED THE DIVINE PROMISE TO ALL language of the known world at the time - three WHO LOVE GOD, as recorded in Psalm 90:16: “With centuries before the Birth of Christ. length of days I will satisfy him, and show This translation into Hellenistic Greek became known him My Salvation.” as “T H E S E P T U A G I N T ” and has been used by The Hymns of our Holy Church compare St Symeon’s everyone, including our Lord Jesus Christ and His Reception of Christ to that of St Isaiah’s reception of Apostles – throughout the ages to this very day. the Burning Coal from the Angel. It is THE COMPLETE, UNABRIDGED HOLY SCRIPTURE OF THE I S A I A H 6 : 6 - 7 : “...Then one of the Seraphim was OLD COVENANT. sent to me. He had a live Coal in his hand, St Symeon had been allocated the task of translating a which he took with tongs from the Altar. He section that mentioned the Virgin Birth of the touched my mouth, and said: ‘Behold! This Messiah and just as he was about to translate the has touched your lips. Your lawlessness is word “Virgin” as “young woman,” ARCHANGEL GABRIEL APPEARED BEFORE HIM AND EXP LAINED taken away and your sin is cleansed.’” THAT CHRIST WOULD TRULY BE BORN FROM AN In both cases, a Holy Prophet of God received the LifeALL PURE AND MOST HOLY VIRGIN, but SINCE ST giving Fire of the Divine Offering – St Isaiah SYMEON STILL REMAINED SCEPTICAL, GOD KEPT received the type while St Symeon received the HIM ALIVE ALL THOSE YEARS UNTIL HIS MEETING Fulfilment – Christ Himself. WITH OUR SAVIOUR AT THE HOLY TEMP LE OF JERUSALEM. The Canticle of St Symeon is chanted daily during St Symeon – like all those who lived at the Temple – Vespers. knew our Most Blessed Lady Theotokos very well, Since Salvation has been Born into the world, “all having watched over her as she grew up and being peoples” can embrace death. well aware of her Sacred Vow of Chastity and the P H I L I P P I A N S 1 : 2 3 “... I am hard-pressed between peculiar circumstances of her Betrothal to her the two, having a desire to depart and be with elderly uncle and legal guardian, St Joseph the Christ, which is far better.” Betrothed. For the Faithful Christian, death is no longer frightful HIS GREAT JOY IS EXPRESSED IN THIS HYMN OF but a necessary gateway to Everlasting Peace.
DISMISSAL, WHICH WE CHANT AT EVERY VESPERS SERVICE SINCE THAT TIME.

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The Presentati on/Meeting of Christ at the Temple

2 Fe bruary 2012

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Prokeimenon of the Presentation

I will remember Thy Name from generation to generation. My heart overflowed with a Good Word; I tell my Works to the King; my tongue is the pen of a swift-writing
Scribe.

The Epistle of St Paul to the Hebrews 7 : 7 – 17
The Rules of the Priestly Orders

Brethren: beyond all contradiction the lesser is Blessed by the Better. Here mortal men receive Tithes, but there He receives them, of Whom it is witnessed that He Lives. Even Levi, who received Tithes, paid Tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. Therefore, if Perfection were through the Levitical Priesthood (for under it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another Priest to arise according to the Order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the Order of Aaron? Or the Priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the Law. For He of Whom these Things are spoken, belongs to another Tribe, from which no man has officiated at the Altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which Tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning Priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchezedek, there arises another Priest Who has come – not according to the Law of a fleshly Commandment, but according to the Power of an Endless Life. For He testifies: “Thou art a Priest forever, according to the Order of Melchezedek.” NEW COVENANT’S PRIESTLY ORDER ARE ALSO Persecuted Christians were encouraged not to SUPERIOR. apostasies to Judaism because THE FOUNDING Any priesthood is so intertwined with a covenant that if FATHER OF CHRIST’S HOLY PRIESTHOOD, MELCHIZEDEK the priesthood is changed, so is the covenant. ( A PRIEST AND A KING OF SALEM WHO BLESSED ABRAHAM) WAS SUPERIOR TO THE OLD COVENANT Thus our Holy and Eternal Priesthood is intertwined PRIESTHOOD OF LEVI. with our New Perfect and Eternal Covenant with The payment of tithes expressed the desire to enter into God. the ministrations of a religious priesthood, which 8 BEING ETERNAL AND ABSOLUTELY PERFECT, LIKE GOD, was only fulfilled once such an offering was made. THE NEW COVENANT IS UNCHANGEABLE – FOR EVEN THE SLIGHTEST CHANGE WOULD DISTORT IT AND This applied to all religions, both pagan – Gentile – and MAKE IT IMPERFECT AND NO LONGER ACCORDING TO Hebrew – Jewish. HIS DIVINE TRUTH! Throughout the Old Testament, we read how the Thus by “modernising” or changing anything of the New Israelites showed their continuing desire for God’s Covenant to suit ourselves is Apostasy! Priesthood by continuing to give a tenth of all they Such a religion – even if we pick and choose from Holy received. Scripture to suit our flawed concepts - becomes an 8 However, because CHRIST HAS PAID THE ULTIMATE ungodly, man-made concept that misguides and PRICE FOR OUR REDEMPTION, OUR MOST LOVING misdirects us away from Eternal Life in Christ GOD OFFERS US HIS INFINITE DIVINE BLESSINGS

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OUR

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FREELY. UNRESTRICTED, WILLING AND VOLUNTARY OFFERINGS TO GOD ARE CONSTANT TIME SPENT IN THANKSGIVING, PRAISING, HONOURING AND WORSHIPPING AS WELL AS OUR SPIRITUAL STRUGGLES IN REPENTANCE, FASTING AND PRAYER. AS FAITHFUL DISCIPLES OF CHRIST WE SHOULD GENEROUSLY OFFER OUR CONTINUOUS SUPPORT TO THE HOLY CHURCH – ESPECIALLY TO THE HOLY PRIESTHOOD - so that AS “THE CHURCH OF CHRIST” WE MAY ALL FULFIL OUR SACRED DUTIES TO GOD

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LIFE IN CHRIST IS A TOTAL ACCEPTANCE OF ALL HOLY THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN TAUGHT AND INSTITUTED BY OUR ONE AND ONLY ETERNAL HIGH PRIEST – OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST – Who verbally instructed His

Holy Apostles.

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during this preparatory period before Eternity. Our voluntary offerings and fundraising are vital for the growth, nurturing and maintenance of our Parish churches and Archdiocese.

BY THE DIVINE GUIDANCE AND INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - GOD’S TRUTH IS PRESERVED AND PASSED DOWN TO US UNALTERED AND CORRECT ACCORDING TO THE WORD AND WILL OF ALMIGHTY GOD – BY THE AUTHORITY AND MEANS OF THE APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION. This means that WE CAN TRACE OUR ORTHODOXY OR TRUE TEACHINGS ALL THE WAY BACK TO CHRIST THROUGH THE APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION – an unbroken lineage

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NOT ONLY IS THE FOUNDER OF OUR NEW COVENANT WITH GOD – OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST – SUPERIOR TO THAT OF THE OLD COVENANT, THE RULES OF THE

through our Holy Church Fathers to the Holy Apostles of Christ and to Christ our Lord Himself!

The Holy Gospel According to St Luke 2 : 22 – 40
Our Lord Jesus Christ was Presented at the Holy Temple for His Dedication to God

At that time, when the days of her Purification according to the Law of Moses were completed, they took Jesus to Jerusalem to Present Him to the Lord, (as it is written in the Law of the Lord; ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called Holy to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is written in the Law of the Lord: ‘A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’ And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Symeon, and this man was Just and Devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon Him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he went, by the Spirit, into the Temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the Custom of the Law, he took Him up in his arms and Blessed God and said: “O Lord, now Thou art letting Thy servant depart in Peace, according to Thy Word; for my eyes have seen Thy Salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples, a Light to bring Revelation to the Gentiles, and the Glory of Thy People, Israel.” And Joseph and the Mother of Jesus marvelled at those thing that were spoken of Him. Then Symeon Blessed them, and said to Mary, His Mother: “Behold! This Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a Sign, which will be spoken against, (yes, a sword will pierce through Thine own soul also!), so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Now there was one, Anna, a Prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the Tribe of Asher, who was of a great age, and who had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the Temple, but served God with Fastings and Prayers night and day. And entering in that instant, she gave Thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for Redemption in Jerusalem. So when they had performed all things according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became Strong in Spirit, filled with Wisdom; and the Grace of God was upon Him.

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The Presentati on/Meeting of Christ at the Tem ple

2 February 2012

On 2 February the Orthodox Church celebrates the Presentation of Christ also known as “The Meeting of the Lord”- when - according to ancient Holy Tradition that is practised to this very day – “The Blessing of a Child on the Fortieth Day After Birth “ is done at the Holy Temple of God.
OUR MOST PURE AND HOLY LADY THEOTOKOS FAITHFULLY AND CORRECTLY FULFILLED ALL REQUIREMENTS OF THE OLD COVENANT LAW BY TAKING THE FORTY DAY OLD CHRIST CHILD TO THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM TO PRESENT HIM AND TO DEDICATE HIM TO THE HOLY SERVICE OF THE LORD OUR GOD.

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NOT ONLY DID THE EVER BLESSED VIRGIN MARY OFFER GOD A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES, BUT ALSO CHRIST WHO IS THE MOST PERFECT AND UNBLEMISHED LAMB OF GOD – THEREBY FULFILLING COMPLETELY THE PRECEPTS OF THE LAW.

In the Orthodox Christian Church this is known as “The 40th Day Church of the Mother and Child.” The Old Covenant Law required a sacrificial blood offering of an unblemished lamb – or if the mother of the newborn infant was unable to afford such an offering, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons” was accepted.

This also fulfilled the Prophecy at the time the ancient Patriarch, St Abraham, was ready to offer his beloved son, Isaac, as an ultimate sacrifice to Almighty God: G E N E S I S 2 2 : 8 : (Abraham told Isaac) “My son, God will provide for Himself the Lamb for a Whole Burnt Offering.” The very old St Symeon symbolises humanity who waited for so long for the coming of “The Consolation of Israel.”
KINDLY REFER TO THE AFOREMENTIONED EXPLANATORY NOTES CONCERNING ST SYMEON AND HIS SIGNIFICANCE IN THE HISTORY AND PRACTISE OF OUR FAITH.

The Presentation or Meeting of Christ at the Temple of Jerusalem
In the Christian West the Festival of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple is called the ‘Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.’ The accent of the celebration falls not so much on the Encounter between the Christ Child and the old people who meet Him, but rather on THE FACT THAT
THE MOTHER OF OUR LORD JESUS COMES TO BE PURIFIED.

always in some way a sin, since in the Ever Blessed Virgin’s case the Teaching of the Gospel and Holy Church Tradition is clear: THERE HAD BEEN NO
PHYSICAL ACT OF SEXUAL UNION - HER CONCEPTION WAS WITHOUT KNOWING A MAN – ACCORDING TO THE DIVINE WILL OF GOD THE FATHER THROUGH THE LIFE-GIVING HOLY SPIRIT WHO MAKES ALL THINGS POSSIBLE! OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST BEGAN TO GROW IN HER BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

This aspect of the Evangelical story is not wholly absent from the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church, but it IS SURELY SEEN TO BE OF SECONDARY SIGNIFICANCE. The Biblical Law concerning the Purification of the Mother after Childbirth is read at the Service, but NO
MENTION IS MADE OF IT IN THE HYMNS, WHICH STRESS THE PURITY OF THE VIRGIN.

So what can be the meaning of Her “Purification”? The answer to this question, which pertains also to the Church's custom of “churching women” on the Fortieth Day After Childbirth, undoubtedly has to do with the Biblical understanding of “Purification.” 1 Holy Scripture teaches us that ALL PEOPLE ARE SINFUL
SIMPLY BY BEING MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN RACE. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT ALL PEOPLE ARE PERSONALLY GUILTY FOR “ADAM'S SIN,” WHICH ORTHODOX DOCTRINE CATEGORICALLY DENIES.

For thus says the Lord God Almighty “...it shall be that a woman who bears a male child, on the Eighth Day shall circumcise the flesh of the foreskin. Then for thirty-three days she shall not enter into the House of the Lord to the Priest until the days of her Purification are fulfilled...And after this she shall bring to the Lord an unblemished Iamb one year old, and if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall bring two turtle doves or two young pigeons, one for a Burnt Offering and the other for a Sin Offering, and the Priest shall make Atonement for her and she shall be clean.” (LEVITICUS 12) We learn from the Church’s Liturgy that ST JOSEPH THE
BETROTHED
RIGHTEOUS (THE DIVINELY OF CHOSEN, AND ELDERLY, GUARDIAN THEOTOKOS CHRIST)

Nor does it mean that every person necessarily and inevitably sins in a personal manner, deliberately and consciously, which the Holy Church Tradition surely denies with regard to the Ever Blessed, All Pure and Holy Virgin Mary.
IT MEANS RATHER THAT THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE - AS AN ORGANIC COMMUNITY OF PERSONS - IS “MISSING THE MARK” (to sin literally means to ‘ miss the mark’) of

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its Sacred Calling. Humanity as a whole is off the track – WE ARE NOT

offer a lamb, but rather the turtle doves, as is depicted on the Icons of the Feast. The Holy Gospel according to St Luke makes no mention of the possibility of offering a lamb. We learn as well that, ALTHOUGH THE ACCENT OF THE
LITURGY IS ON THE MEETING OF CHRIST BY ST SYMEON THE AGED, RIGHTEOUS ELDER ( A N D O N E O F T H E A N C I E N T T R A N S L A T O R S O F T H E S E P T U A G I N T ) , THE EVER BLESSED VIRGIN MARY DID IN FACT GO TO THE TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM FOR PURIFICATION AS THE OLD COVENANT LAW REQUIRED. This means that HER WOMB WAS ‘OPENED’ BY THE CHRIST CHILD – THE INCARNATE, ETERNAL SON AND WORD OF GOD WHO WAS BORN FROM HER IN THE MANNER WHEREBY ALL HUMAN CHILDREN ARE BORN. In this sense, although the Church insists that THE EVER BLESSED THEOTOKOS REMAINED FOREVER A VIRGIN,

THE ALL PURE, EVER VIRGIN ST MARY CONSIDERED TO BE POOR, since they did not

AND WERE

MOVING TOWARD OUR CREATED, ULTIMATE GOAL, WHICH IS PERFECTION OF LIFE IN COMMUNION WITH GOD. OUR HUMAN NATURE IS MORTAL, MISDIRECTED, FRAGMENTED AND FALLEN APART. WE ARE - IN MODERN TERMS - ALIENATED FROM OUR TRUE BEING AND ESTRANGED FROM OUR TRUE PURPOSE.

Consequently, the Ever Blessed Virgin Theotokos - like all mere human beings – was caught up in this fallenness and mortality by the mere fact of Her human nature. In addition, Holy Scripture teaches us that ALL HUMAN
BEINGS, WHO ARE INEVITABLY CAUGHT UP IN THE FALLENNESS OF THE SINFUL WORLD, ARE IN NEED OF “PURIFICATION” WHEN THEY COME INTO DIRECT CONTACT WITH GOD, AND ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY ARE THE OBJECTS OF A DIRECT DIVINE ACTION. GOD IS ALWAYS ACTING IN OUR LIVES. But there are times

when He acts directly, so to speak, and with particular Purpose. THESE ARE THE TIMES OF BIRTH AND DEATH (and the times when we are in contact with those parts of our
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the only Miracle in regard to our Lord’s Birth is the Virginal Conception. There is no Teaching of any other sort of Miracle in regard to His Birth - certainly no idea that He came forth from His Mother without opening Her Womb. But the question yet remains: What does it mean that St Mary went to the Temple for “Purification”?
IT OBVIOUSLY CANNOT MEAN THAT THERE WAS ANY SIN CONNECTED TO HER CONCEIVING THE LORD AND GIVING HIM BIRTH AS A MAN.

This is especially so if it is automatically concluded, so to speak, that the act of sexual reproduction is

TH E O R TH OD OX CH UR CH PR E SE NTL Y PR ACTI CE S TH E R I TE O F THE CH UR CH I NG O F WO ME N AFTE R CHI LD BI R TH . TH I S RI TE I S USUALL Y PE R FO RMED O N TH E FOR TI E TH D AY AFTER TH E BABY I S BO R N, O R AT TH E TIME WHE N TH E WOMAN R E SUME S HE R NO R MAL ACTI VI TI E S, PAR TI CUL AR L Y ATTE ND I NG CH UR CH SE R VI CE S AND PAR TI CI PATI NG I N H OL Y CO MMUNI O N. WH I LE TH E PR AYE R S O F CH UR CH I NG STR E SS TH E SI NFUL NE SS O F TH E MO TH ER AND ASK FO R H E R FOR G I VE NE SS AND PURI FI CATI O N, TH E SE PE TI TIO NS SH O UL D NE VE R H E UND ER STO OD TO R E FER TO THE ACT O F G I VING BI RTH , AND STI LL L E SS TO TH E ACT BY WH I CH CH I LD R EN ARE CO NCE I VE D . ST. JO H N CH R YSO STO M TE ACH E S TH AT THO SE WH O CL AI M TH AT THE SE X UAL ACT O F R E PRO D UCTIO N I S SI NFUL AR E ACCUSI NG G OD O F SI N, SI NCE H E I S TH E AUTHO R O F TH E ACT. ST. JO H N PO I NTS O UT TH AT THE SE X UAL ACT I S SI NFUL O NL Y WH E N IT I S USE D WR ONGL Y, D E VO ID O F LO VE AND FID E LI TY WI TH IN TH E CO MMUNI TY O F MAR R I AGE . (STJOH N CH R YSO STOM, O N TITUS , H O MIL Y 2.)

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The Presentati on/Meeting of Christ at the Temple

2 F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 2 3.

being which involve life and death, such as blood, menses and semen.) THESE ARE ALSO TIMES OF WORSHIP, such as when the Priests go into the Holy Place or when they touch the Holy Objects. Thus, according to the Mosaic Law, mere HUMAN BEINGS
WHO WERE IN DIRECT TOUCH WITH GOD THROUGH HIS CONCRETE DIVINE ACTIONS WERE REQUIRED TO OFFER SIGNS OF RITUAL “PURIFICATION” to express the fact

“Purified,” and why all who follow in Her Example will do so as well. She went - not because she had done anything sinful or wrong - certainly not in relation to her giving Birth to the Saviour. She went to the Temple for Purification rather to show that SHE, BEING A MERE MORTAL AND IN NEED OF
SALVATION - ALONG WITH THE WHOLE OF CREATION HAD BEEN CHOSEN TO BE THE MOST ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN THE HOLIEST ACT OF GOD EVER ACCOMPLISHED IN THE WORLD: THE INCARNATION AS A MAN OF GOD’S VERY OWN SON! To be required TO PARTICIPATE IN SUCH A “PURIFICATION” IS THE ACT OF GREATEST JOY AND THANKSGIVING. IT IS ALSO AN ACT WHICH BRINGS THE GREATEST GLORY AND HONOUR TO THE ONE WHO IS “PURIFIED.”
FROM THE WINTER PASCHA BY PROTOPRESBYTER THOMAS HOPKO, SVS PRESS HTTP://AGGREEN.NET/THEOTOKOS/MEETLORD.HTML

that being mere mortals and victims of sins (not to say sinners in their own right in virtually all cases) they had also been THE OBJECTS OF THE HOLY
ACTIONS OF THE MOST HIGH AND HOLY GOD.

If this is the proper understanding of the Biblical Teaching and practice of Ritual “Purification,” and it seems that it is, then it becomes clear why the Blessed Virgin Mary, of all people, went to be

The Eternal, Inspired Wisdom of our Holy Church Fathers St. Makarios of Egypt
What is THE WILL OF GOD THAT ST. PAUL URGES AND INVITES EACH OF US TO ATTAIN? (1 THESSALONIANS 4:3) It IS TOTAL CLEANSING FROM SIN, FREEDOM FROM THE
SHAMEFUL PASSIONS AND THE ACQUISITION OF THE HIGHEST VIRTUE. THERE IS ONE ANTIDOTE FOR EVIL PASSIONS: THE PURIFICATION OF OUR SOULS, WHICH TAKES PLACE THROUGH THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS. The chief Act of Faith in this Mystery is to LOOK TO HIM WHO SUFFERED THE PASSION FOR US. DISCUSSION OF THEOLOGY IS NOT FOR EVERYONE,

In

other words, it is THE PURIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION OF THE HEART THAT COMES ABOUT THROUGH FULLY EXPERIENCED AND CONSCIOUS PARTICIPATION IN THE PERFECT AND DIVINE SPIRIT.
(THE PHILOKALIA VOL. 3; FABER AND FABER PG. 285)

S t . G r e g o r y o f Ny s s a
THE CROSS IS THE PASSION, SO THAT WHOEVER LOOKS TO IT IS NOT HARMED BY THE POISON OF DESIRE. TO LOOK TO THE CROSS MEANS TO RENDER ONE'S WHOLE LIFE DEAD AND CRUCIFIED TO THE (FALLEN) WORLD.
(THE LIFE OF MOSES; PAULIST PRESS PG. 124):

S t . G r e g o r y o f Na z i a n z o s
I tell you, not for everyone - it is no such inexpensive or effortless pursuit. Nor, I would add, is it for every occasion, or every audience; neither are all its aspects open to inquiry.
IT MUST BE RESERVED FOR CERTAIN OCCASIONS, FOR CERTAIN AUDIENCES, AND CERTAIN LIMITS MUST BE OBSERVED. MOSES WAS COMMANDED TO SUBMIT FIRST TO PURIFICATION AND THEN TO DEPART FROM THOSE WHO HAD NOT UNDERGONE THIS. IT IS NOT FOR ALL PEOPLE, BUT ONLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN TESTED and have found a sound footing

in study, and, more importantly, have undergone,
OR AT THE VERY LEAST ARE UNDERGOING, PURIFICATION OF BODY AND SOUL. FOR ONE WHO IS NOT PURE TO LAY HOLD OF PURE THINGS IS DANGEROUS, just as it is for weak eyes to look at

the sun's brightness." (ORATION 27 SECT. 3, ON GOD AND CHRIST;
ST. VLADIMIR'S SEMINARY PRESS PGS. 26-27)

St. Dionysius
OR THE MIND ARE BUT THE RATIONALE THAT PRESUPPOSES ALL THAT LIES BELOW THE TRANSCENDENT ONE. THROUGH THEM, HOWEVER, HIS UNIMAGINABLE PRESENCE IS SHOWN, WALKING THE HEIGHTS OF THOSE HOLY PLACES TO WHICH THE MIND AT LEAST CAN RISE.

When every Purification was complete, he heard the many-voiced Trumpets. He saw the many Lights - pure and with rays streaming abundantly. Then, standing apart from the crowds and accompanied by Chosen Priests, he pushed ahead to the summit of the Divine Ascents. And yet he did not meet God Himself, but contemplated - not Him Who is invisible, but rather - where He Dwells. This means, I presume, that THE HOLIEST AND HIGHEST
OF THE THINGS PERCEIVED WITH THE EYE OF THE BODY WHEN YOU ARE IN CHURCH, AND ARE GOING TO PARTAKE OF THE DIVINE MYSTERIES OF CHRIST, DO NOT GO OUT UNTIL YOU HAVE ATTAINED COMPLETE PEACE. Stand in one place, and DO NOT LEAVE UNTIL THE DISMISSAL.

But then [Moses] broke free of them - away from what he saw and what can be seen - and HE
PLUNGED INTO THE TRULY MYSTERIOUS DARKNESS OF UNKNOWING. There - RENOUNCING ALL THAT THE MIND MAY CONCEIVE, WRAPPED ENTIRELY IN THE INTANGIBLE AND THE INVISIBLE - HE BELONGS COMPLETELY TO HIM WHO IS BEYOND EVERYTHING.
(THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY, CHAP. ONE SECT. 3, PSEUDO-DIONYSIUS: THE COMPLETE WORKS; PAULIST PRESS PGS. 136-137):

Abba Philemon
Think that YOU ARE STANDING IN HEAVEN, AND THAT IN
THE COMPANY OF THE HOLY ANGELS YOU ARE MEETING GOD AND RECEIVING HIM IN YOUR HEART. PREPARE YOURSELF WITH GREAT AWE AND TREMBLING, LEST YOU MINGLE WITH THE HOLY POWERS UNWORTHILY. (THE
PHILOKALIA VOL. 2; FABER AND FABER PG. 351):

St. Symeon the New Theologian
Let us ACQUIRE A CONTRITE HEART, A SOUL HUMBLED IN
MIND, AND A HEART THAT BY MEANS OF TEARS AND REPENTANCE IS PURIFIED FROM EVERY STAIN AND DEFILEMENT OF SIN. DIVINE LIGHT, IF NOT PERFECTLY, AT LEAST IN PART, AND TO THE EXTENT TO WHICH WE ARE ABLE. SO SHALL WE BOTH UNITE OURSELVES TO GOD, AND GOD WILL BE UNITED TO US.

So shall we too be found worthy in due time quickly to rise to such heights that EVEN HERE AND NOW WE
MAY SEE AND ENJOY THE INEFFABLE BLESSINGS OF THE

To those who come near us we shall become 'Light' and 'Salt' to their Great Benefit in Christ Jesus our Lord. (cf. MATTHEW 5:13-14) (THE DISCOURSES; PAULIST PRESS PGS. 202203):

St. John of Kronstadt
THE MISFORTUNES OF PEOPLE ARISE FROM THEIR NOT HAVING ANY CHRISTIAN HOPE.

Those who feel the oppression of sin in their heart the weariness and anguish of sin - if they have no Christian Hope in their heart, what do they do?
THEY TURN TO ARTIFICIAL MEANS TO DRIVE AWAY THE OPPRESSION AND WEARINESS TO CULPABLE DISTRACTIONS - AND NOT TO CHRIST, Whose 'Yoke is

profitable for Doctrine, for Reproof and for Comfort' (2 TIMOTHY 3:16 & ROMANS 15:4). So it happens in most cases. Hence the necessity for worldly people to have theatres and a multitude of other ‘amusements.’ Some even commit suicide!
THE EXPERIENCE OF OBTAINING THAT FOR WHICH WE PRAY GREATLY STRENGTHENS CHRISTIAN HOPE IN OUR HEART. And those who are attentive to themselves

easy' for our heart and Whose 'Burden is light' (MATTHEW 11:30) - NOT TO PRAYER, NOT TO REPENTANCE FOR THEIR SINS, NOT TO THE WORD OF GOD, which 'is

will easily observe this Experience."
HOLY TRINITY MONASTERY PG. 482):

(MY LIFE IN CHRIST;

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The Present ation/Meeting of Christ at the Tem ple

2 February 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glo ry, Honou r and Worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Vi rgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

3 3 r d S u n d a y Af t e r P e n t e c o s t

Tone 1

5 February 2 0 1 2

Afterfeast of the Presentation-Meeting of Christ 16th Sunday of St Luke The Publican & the Pharisee
(The Beginning of the Triodion) Feast of St Agatha, Virgin Martyr of Palermo, Sicily – St Theodosios of Chernigov – St Theodoula, St Helladios, St Makarios & St Evagrios, Holy Marytrs of Anazarbos, Cilicia

R e s u r r e c t i o n A p o l y t i k i o n – TONE 1

Tou lithou sfragisthentos ipo ton Ioudeon ke stratioton While
filassonton to ahranton Sou Soma, Anestis trimeros, Sotir, Doroumenos to kosmo tin Zoin. Dia touto e Dinamis ton Ouranon evoon si Zoodota. Doxa ti Anastasi Sou, Hriste! Doxa ti Vasilia Sou! Doxa ti Ikonomia Sou, mone Filanthrope!

the stone was sealed by the Jews, and soldiers stood on guard over Thy Body undefiled, Thou rose on the Third Day, O Saviour, Who grants Life to the world. For which cause the Heavenly Powers cried aloud to Thee: O Giver of Life: Glory to Thy Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to Thy Kingdom! Glory to Thy Providence, O Thou Who alone Loves mankind!

K o n t a k i o n o f t h e P u b l i c a n & P h a r i s e e – TONE 4

Fariseou figomen ipsigorian, ke Telonou mathomen, to Let us flee the Pharisee’s exalted parlance;
tapinon en stenagmis, pros ton Sotira kravgazontes, Ilathi Mone imin Evdiallakte!.

let us learn the Publican’s humble demeanour, and with sighs to our Saviour cry out: Be gracious to us, O Only Forgiving Lord!

Gospel 1: Matthew 28 : 16 - 20
The Great Commission of Christ

Prokeimenon

Pray to the Lord our God, and render Thanks to Him. God is known in Judea - His Name is great in Israel!
The Second Epistle of St Paul to St Timothy 3 : 10 – 15
Beware of Apostasy & Maintain Loyalty to the Faith Timothy my Son: you have carefully followed my Doctrine, manner of Life, Purpose, Faith, Longsuffering, Love, Perseverance, persecutions and afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra – what persecutions I endured! And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes! And all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But you must continue in the things that you have learnt and have been assured of, knowing from whom you learnt them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you Wise for Salvation through Faith, which is in Christ Jesus... St Paul’s entire life exhibited what our Lord Jesus Christ JOHN 15:20: Our Lord Jesus Christ exhorted us to “... has taught us: in this fallen, Spiritually Darkened remember the Word that I said to you: ‘A world, True Godliness elicits persecution, because servant is not greater than his Master.’ If they Satan obsessively hates us and anything that is persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If good and which draws us closer to God and all His they kept My Word, they will keep yours also!” Divine Blessings. Having exhorted St Timothy with the example of his own SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS A REALITY AND ESSENTIAL PART OF steadfastness and unwavering Faith in Christ, no THIS TIME OF PREPARATION BEFORE ETERNITY, WHICH matter what he experienced in this temporary EVERY HUMAN BEING CONFRONTS. lifespan, St Paul then reminded St Timothy of the Due to His infinite Love for all mankind, OUR LORD JESUS depth of his training, which combined both Oral and CHRIST HAS REVEALED HIS DIVINE TRUTH TO US AND Written Holy Teachings. (REFER MATTHEW 28: 16 – 20 – 1 TAUGHT US HOW TO CONTEND WITH THE MANY CORINTHIANS 11:2 – 2 THESSALONIANS 2 :15 & 3:6) TEMPTATIONS – the evil inventions – of the evil one, At that time, of course, Holy Scripture consisted only of so that we may eventually regain our lost Divine the Holy Books of the Old Testament since the New Likeness and return to God from whence we Testament had not yet been compiled. originated.

The New Testament According to St Luke 18 : 10 - 14
Arrogant Self-Righteousness versus Humility & Repentance At that time, our Lord Jesus said: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a Tax Collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself: ‘O God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this Tax Collector. I Fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I posses...’ And the Tax Collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to Heaven, but beat his breast, and said: “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

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I tell you: this man went down to his house Justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” THE PHARISEES were highly respected by the Hebrews In fact HIS ARROGANCE AND CYNICAL JUDGEMENT BROUGHT HIM FAR MORE CONDEMNATION THAN THE PRESUMED and they carefully OBSERVED EVERY DETAIL OF THE
MOSAIC LAW, YET THEY CONSTANTLY CONFRONTED OUR LORD JESUS WHO TRIED TO ENLIGHTEN THEM WITH DIVINE WISDOM AND DIVINE LOVE – AGAPE. MANY OF THEM WERE SO ARROGANT AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS, FILLED WITH A SENSE OF SELF-IMPORTANCE AND SUPERIORITY TO SUCH A DEGREE THAT THEY PLOTTED AND PLANNED TO DESTROY OUR SAVIOUR. WITH THEIR SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS AND STUBBORNNESS, THEY REFUSED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT “JESUS OF NAZARETH... THE SON OF THE CARPENTER...” WAS INDEED THE LONG-AWAITED MESSIAH – DESPITE THEIR INTENSE STUDY OF THE HOLY PROPHETS AND THE LAW OF MOSES. Nevertheless, OUR LORD JESUS TOOK EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THEM UNDERSTAND THAT THE LAW OF GOD WAS A LAW OF AGAPE – unconditional Love of God and one SINS OF OTHERS.

A most relevant detail of Christ’s narration are the words: “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself...”for wherever there is pride, arrogance and boasting, GOD HIMSELF IS ABSENT! The contrast to this particular Pharisee was THE
REPENTANT AND ASHAMED TAX COLLECTOR WHO REVEALED THE STATE OF HIS TROUBLED SOUL BY MEANS OF HIS SELF-EFFACING POSTURE.

The repentant Publican stood far away from the Altar of Sacrifice WITH EYES CAST DOWNWARDS, BEATING HIS
CHEST IN AN ACT OF SELF-DISGUST, SPIRITUAL MOURNING AND AN ATTITUDE OF UTTER UNWORTHINESS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. HIS HEART-FELT PRAYER IS THE FOUNDATION OF THE JESUS PRAYER as is the refrain “Lord, have mercy,” that

another... a concept they rejected because it did not suit their own flawed interpretation and belief.
THE PUBLICANS OR TAX COLLECTORS WERE DESPISED HEBREWS WHO WORKED FOR THE ROMAN EMPIRE BY COLLECTING THE DREADED TAXES. Many of these

exploited their position and extorted their suffering fellow countrymen and Spiritual Brethren. As collaborators with the Roman oppressors, all Tax Collectors were intensely loathed and feared. The practises of the Pharisee might have been worthy example to follow since his good deeds of FASTING
AND GIVING TITHES ARE PRIMARY WEAPONS AGAINST THE PASSIONS OF LUST AND GREED – ADULTERY AND EXTORTION.

permeates Orthodox Worship and our personal Prayers. 1 THESSALONIANS 5: 16 -18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Our Holy Church Fathers teach us that UNCEASING PRAYER
IS A PROPER GOAL TO ACHIEVE FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH COMES THROUGH SUCH SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE.

However, the Pharisee stood where everyone could see him and no doubt hear him praying – and HE
HAS THE AUDACITY TO LIST HIS PERCEIVED VIRTUES FOR GOD Who knows the absolute true state of every soul

ever created! This alone demonstrated his pride and arrogance in the Sight of God and his fellow sinners. Consequently, HIS LACK OF HUMILITY OR A REPENTANT
HEART MADE WORTHLESS. HIS OUTWARD GESTURES EMPTY AND

For centuries Faithful Christians have recited the “Jesus Prayer” as a way of unceasing Prayer of the Heart: “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God: have mercy on me, a sinner!” When Christ said that THE PUBLICAN/TAX COLLECTOR WAS JUSTIFIED RATHER THAN THE ERUDITE PHARISEE, He meant that THE REPENTANT SINNER HAD BEEN FORGIVEN AND SET RIGHT WITH ALMIGHTY GOD BECAUSE INWARD HUMILITY IS BLESSED BY GOD WHILE PRIDE IN PERSONAL OUTWARD GESTURES IS CONDEMNED.

First Sunday of Triodion - the Publican and the Pharisee Preparing for Great Lent
The centre of the Liturgical Year in the Orthodox Church is Holy Pascha - the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. It is extolled in the Services as the Feast of Feasts and Triumph of triumphs. Justifiably so, for as the Apostle, St Paul, declared: ”... if Christ be not risen, then is our Preaching vain, and your Faith is also vain.” (1 CORINTHIANS 15:14). Through His Redeeming Passion, Christ freed us from the tyranny of Death and opened for us the Door to Paradise and Eternal Life. This is the Goal of our life-long Spiritual Journey - a Journey from Death to Life - from Darkness to Light. It is a long Journey and we travellers get weary; we get distracted and wander off or even lose sight of the road. To help keep us focussed, the Church every year compresses for us this Journey as it prepares us to greet the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection, which is a Foretaste of that Eternal Pascha. We usually think of this Preparatory Time as the Period of Great Lent, but in fact it begins three weeks earlier with the Sundays of the Publican and Pharisee, the Prodigal Son and the Last Judgment. Since we are not Fasting yet, we tend to pay less attention to these Preparatory Sundays than we do to the Sundays of Great Lent, and yet they are very important, as they give us a map, as it were, of our Lenten Journey. Already a week before the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, which opens The Lenten Triodion, we hear intimations of the approaching period of Lent. The Gospel Lesson for that Sunday relates the story of St Zacchaeus, who had been “... chief among the Publicans,” a rich Tax-collector despised for his extortionary practices. He must have been a hard man, but the Voice of his conscience had not been completely stifled, for he came to realize that he had taken the wrong path in life. But what could he do? Perhaps the Great Teacher people were talking about could help him. When he heard that our Lord Jesus Christ was to pass by, he climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to catch sight of Him over the crowd, for Zacchaeus was “short of stature.” Any self-consciousness or concern that he - such a public figure - would be laughed at and scorned, was overcome by his intense desire to see the Lord - his desire to get help in order to set his life aright. And what happened? Jesus Christ not only acknowledged him, He went to his house. Zacchaeus’ heart expanded in the Presence of this Love and he resolved to make amends to all those whom he had wronged. In other words he immediately began his Journey to a New Life in Christ. As we approach the Fast, we must have this same desire the same state of mind as St Zacchaeus. If we genuinely desire to catch sight of our Lord Jesus Christ amidst the worldly vanities that surround and overwhelm us, God will visit us. We must simply have the desire to receive Him in the home of our heart.

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The Sacred Lesson for the following Sunday reminds us of the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. Both men were in the Temple praying. The Pharisee prayed: ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are - extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like that Publican!’ .Meanwhile, the Publican beat his breast, crying out from deep within his soul: ’O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ The Pharisee did well by Tithing and Fasting; he was undoubtedly an upright, respectable citizen. Any Virtue he possessed, however, was poisoned by his proud and arrogant attitude. He was self-satisfied and expressed no desire to change. As we enter upon the Lenten Struggle, we must beware of such complacency - of being satisfied with keeping the “Rule” of the Fast while judging those who do not. Such a prideful attitude can ruin all our good efforts. Instead, we should imitate the humble, contrite Publican. There was a man who may have, like St Zacchaeus, led a bad life but finally acknowledged and Repented the error of his ways. He was trying now to please God, but found himself constantly falling into his old habits and giving in to temptations. He saw that he possessed no Righteousness and that he was a wretched sinner in desperate need of God’s Great Mercy. “O Lord,” he cried, “help me!” Such Humility invites God’s Grace. The Publican may not have Fasted according to the requirements of the Law and he may have neglected other ordinances of the Law, but his Humility raised him above the legalistic Pharisee, and he returned to his home completely Justified. The next preparatory week begins with the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. We should all be familiar with the Parable, found in St. Luke’s Gospel. How does it apply to us - to our Spiritual Life? The younger son was bored at home. He took his inheritance and went off into a far country, where he squandered what he had on riotous living. How often do we find ourselves enticed by the ways and the pleasures of this world, our hearts indifferent to the Things of God, our minds wandering “in a far country” as we stand in Church? The result? We become Spiritually Parched, like the Prodigal Son who experienced “a severe famine” in the land of his sojourning. Finally, when he was reduced to feeding swine, i.e., when he was in the most desperate of circumstances, “he came to himself.” He saw what kind of person he had become and he realized how deeply he had wounded his loving Father. Finally, being willing to admit all his errors and prepared to beg his father’s forgiveness, the Prodigal Son returned to the safety and joy of his own home. The fact that he had to travel a long way, without any money, to return home demonstrated his strong resolve. We must have the same determination and make a similar exertion in departing from our habitual sins and destructive self-indulgence, and slowly but surely make our return journey back to God and the Peace and Joy of our True Homeland – Eternal Life in His Heavenly Kingdom. We shall be welcomed home with indescribable Joy by our Heavenly Father Who so patiently awaits our return – watching carefully for us while we are still such a great distance away from Him. God will embrace us warmly and forgive us all our sins, if only we come to our senses, Repent and have the determination to according to our Repentance. We cannot, however, take God’s Mercy for granted, and the Church makes this clear to us the following Sunday, when She reminds us about the Final Judgement of Christ on the Eighth Day - reminding us that God is not only a Loving Father but also a Righteous Judge.

In the appointed Sacred Lesson, we hear how our Lord Jesus Christ will appear in all His Divine Glory on the Final Day - at the end of time - to judge all mankind – whether they are believers or not - when He will separate the Righteous souls from the wicked, unrepentant souls - just “...as a Shepherd separates his sheep from the goats.” Each soul will receive recompense for every word, thought and deed. As Christ has told us so many times, those who have done good – those who had Love and Compassion for others, who fed the hungry, who visited the sick and imprisoned, who clothed and comforted the naked and the destitute - will inherit Everlasting Life, while those who neglected the Sacred Works of Love – those who never had Love or Compassion for others – will suffer Eternal Condemnation and indescribable Punishment, being exiled through their own personal choices – banished into “Outer Darkness” – the extreme distance from God and all His Love, Goodness, Light and Blessedness! It is not enough to merely Repent in our thoughts or with our emotions - or even to express our intentions with words. The True Fruit of genuine Repentance is a total change in our way of life and our Relationship with God and one another! During the Vespers for Meatfare Sunday - we chant: “Knowing the Commandments of the Lord, let this be our way of life: Let us feed the hungry, let us give the thirsty to drink, Let us clothe the naked, let us welcome strangers, Let us visit those in prison and the sick...” Then the Judge of all Creation will say even to us wretched sinners: ‘Come, Blessed of My Father inherit the Kingdom prepared for you!’ On the very threshold of Great Lent, we commemorate the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. Here is an example of what happens when we do not Fast and when we do not Repent. Shall we remain forever outside the Gates of Paradise, weeping in the darkness of our sins - far removed from God - or shall we hearken to the Voice of the Church inviting us - urging us - to “...set out with Joy upon the season of the Fast, and prepare ourselves for Spiritual Combat,” - that Cleansed by Fasting and the Works of Repentance, we may be led back into Paradise, into the Everlasting Joy of our Resurrected Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The Holy Services for these preparatory weeks, beginning with the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, are compiled in a special book: The Lenten Triodion of the “Book of Three Odes,” so-called because the weekday Canons at Matins during Great Lent contain not the usual eight or nine Canticles or Odes, but, as a rule, only three. During Sunday Matins, after the reading of the Holy Gospel and the 50th Psalm (the Psalm of Repentance), special Stichera (Verses) are chanted: “Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life.” These Triodion Stihera are sung until the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent – Sunday of St Mary of Egypt. A special feature of the preparatory Sunday Services is the chanting of Psalm 136, “By the rivers of Babylon,” after the usual Polyeleos Stihera, “Praise ye the name of the Lord, Allelluia!” It was sung by God’s Chosen People in their exile in Babylon and reflects our bondage to sin that has taken us far from our Heavenly Homeland. These weeks also include a special Commemoration of all departed Orthodox Christians “from all ages,” when we particularly pray for the souls of those who did not receive a Church Burial when they died, who died suddenly or violently, without opportunity for a Final Repentance. On the eve of this Saturday of the Souls - before Sunday of the Last Judgment - certain Hymns from the Funeral Service are chanted. On Wednesday and Friday of the final preparatory week, unless there is a major Feast, the Divine Liturgy is not

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served, and during Holy Lenten Vespers for Wednesday we recite the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, “O Lord and Master of my life . . .” The season for True Reflection, Repentance, Contemplation and Fasting has begun. For most of us, the dominant feature of Great Lent is Fasting from certain foods. Here, too, these preparatory weeks lead us gradually towards stricter abstinence. Following the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, the usual Wednesday and Friday Fasts are not observed, that we might not boast in keeping the Fasting “Rules,” and as a reminder that Fasting is only a means - an aid - on the Path to Salvation. Fasting is not a ‘ticket to Heaven!’ The following week, however, we return to the wise moderation of the Church’s Discipline, observing the usual Wednesday and Friday Fasts. It is called ‘Meat-fare Week,’ because at the end of that week, on Sunday, we stop eating meat [AND ALL DERIVATIVES FROM ‘BLOOD ANIMALS’] for the duration of Great Lent. During Cheese-fare week, we are permitted to eat dairy products - i.e., milk and egg products. With the exception of meat, it is a Fast-free week, although it is desirable to observe the Wednesday and Friday Fasts until evening. The Church Services for Cheesefare week reminds us of the Fall of Adam and Eve – which was a consequence of self-indulgence and disobedience to God. On Cheesefare Saturday, the Church commemorates “...all the Righteous who shone forth in the Ascetic Life” - in Fasting and Prayer.

It is a week to use up what dairy products we have in our homes before Great Lent - to begin paring down our food intake, not to stuff ourselves as if we were going to starve for the next forty days. We enter Great Lent with the Rite of Forgiveness following Vespers of Cheesefare Sunday. Clergy and laity ask one another’s forgiveness, and then the Priest Blesses everyone for their Spiritual Journey through the Great Lenten Fast. Strengthening ourselves with the desire of the Repentant Zacchaeus, the Humility of the humble and contrite Publican, the resolve of the Prodigal Son, sobriety in contemplation of God’s Righteous Judgment and the crucial Lesson of Adam’s expulsion from Paradise, we are well equipped “...for the noble contest of the Fast.” “Let us set out with Joy upon the season of the Fast, and prepare ourselves for Spiritual Combat. “Let us Purify our soul and Cleanse our flesh; and as we Fast from food, let us Abstain also from every passion. “Rejoicing in the Virtues of the Holy Spirit may we persevere with Love, and so be counted worthy to see the solemn Passion of Christ our God, and with great Spiritual Gladness to behold His Holy Passover.” [VESPERS ON THE SUNDAY OF FORGIVENESS]
THE LENTEN TRIODION, FABER & FABER, 1978; PUT’ K PASKHE IN PRAVOSLAVNAYA BESEDA, MOSCOW, 1991 NO. 2; THE ONE THING NEEDFUL, ARCHBISHOP ANDREI OF NOVO-DIVEYEVO, ST. JOHN OF KRONSTADT PRESS, 1991; “OT POKAYANIYE K OBNOVLENIYU” BY ARCHPRIEST VALERY LUKIANOV, IN PRAVOSLAVNAYA RUS, JORDANVILLE, 1994, NO. 3.

The Eternal, Inspired Wisdom of our Holy Church Fathers St. Gregory the Theologian
Do not delay in coming to Grace, but hasten, lest the robber outstrip you, lest the adulterer pass you by, lest the insatiate be satisfied before you, lest the murderer seize the Blessing first, or the Publican or the fornicator, or any of these violent ones who take the Kingdom of Heaven by force. (CF. MATTHEW 11:12). For it suffers violence willingly, and is tyrannized over through Goodness." (THE NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS:
SECOND SERIES VOL. VII PG. 368):

St. Irenaeus
"... if anyone shall endeavour to offer a Sacrifice merely for outward appearance, unexceptionally, in due order, and according to appointment, while in his soul he does not assign to his neighbour that fellowship with him which is right and proper, nor is under Fear of God - he who thus cherishes secret sin does not deceive God by that Sacrifice, which is offered correctly as to outward appearance; nor will such an Oblation profit him anything, but only the giving up of that evil that has been conceived within him, so that sin may not the more - by means of the hypocritical action -render him the destroyer of himself. Wherefore did the Lord declare: "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed sepulchres. For it appears beautiful outside, but within it is full of dead men's bones, and all uncleanness; even so you also appear Righteous to men, but within you are full of wickedness and hypocrisy!" (MATTHEW
23:27-28).

For while they were thought to offer correctly so far as outward appearance went, they had in themselves jealousy like Cain's; therefore they slew the Just One..." (THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS VOL. 1; EERDMANS
PG. 485):

St. Symeon the New Theologian
"... Those who say that there is no one in our times and in our midst who is able to keep the Gospel Commandments and become like the Holy Fathers - to them our Master rightly says with a loud voice: 'Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees! Woe to you, blind guides of the blind because you do not enter into the Kingdom, and you hinder those who wish to enter!' (THE DISCOURSES' PAULIST PRESS PG. 312):

St. Maximos the Confessor
"When that which has been created in time according to the temporal order has reached maturity, it ceases from natural growth. But when that which has been brought about by the Knowledge of God through the practice of the Virtues has reached maturity, it starts to grow anew. For the end of one stage constitutes the starting point of the next." (THE PHILOKALIA VOL. 2; FABER AND FABER PG. 121):

St. Gregory the Theologian
"Do you conceive of your Lord as less because He shows that humiliation is the best road to Exaltation because He humbles Himself for the sake of the soul that is bent down to the ground, that He may even exalt within Himself that which is bent double under a weight of sin?... If so, you must blame the Physician for stooping over suffering and putting up with evil smells in order to give health to the sick!" (THE NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS: SECOND SERIES VOL. VII; EERDMANS PGS. 432-433):

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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honour and Worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glo rious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Sai nts. And let us commit ourselves an d one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

10 February 2 0 1 2 St Charalambos, Hieromartyr of Magnesia, Thessaly
Feast of St Porphyrios, St Vaptos & three female Holy Martyrs of Thessaly – Synaxis of the Holy Hierarchs of Nogorod: St Joachim, First Bishop of Novgorod, St Luke, St Theodore, St Herman, ST Arcadios, St John, St Gabriel, Bishops of Novgorod, St Martyrios, St Anthony, St Basil, St Moses, St Symeon, St Euthymios, St Aphthonios & St Anna of Novgorod – St Prochoros of Kiev Near Caves – St Loginos of Koryzhemsk, Vologda – St Ennatha, St Valentina & St Paula,Virgin Martyrs of Palestine – St John Chimcimeli the Philosopher of Georgia
Apolytikion Of St Charalambos

TONE 4

Os

stilos aklonitos, tis Ekklisias Hristou, ke lihnos aifotos tis ikoumenis sofe, edihthis Haralambes; elampsas en to kosmo, dia tou Martiriou, elisas ton idolon, tin skotomenan makar. Dio en parrisia Hristo, presveve sothine imas

Thou became a firm Pillar in the Church of Christ, O Wise
Haralambos; a Lamp of Everlasting Light to the world: Well known to the world through Thy Holy Martyrdom, thou dispelled the dark night of idolatry. Boldly intercede with Christ God so that He may Save our souls.

Kontakion Of St Charalambos – TONE 4

Thisavron

politimon i Ekklisia, tin sin haran kektite, iromartis athlita, tropeofore Haralambes. Dio ke heri ton Ktistin doxazousa.

Thou

rose from the East like a star, O Hieromartyr Haralambos, and Enlightened the Faithful with the brightness of thy Miracles. Therefore we honour thy Holy Contest.

Kontakion of the Ever Blessed Theotokos

Prostasia ton Hristianon akateskhinte, mesitia pros ton O
Piitin ametathete, mi Paridis, amartolon deiseon fonas, alla profthason os agathi, is tin voithian imon, ton pistos kravgazonton Si: Tahinon is presvian, ke spefson is ikesian, i prostatevousa ai, Theotoke, ton timonton se.

Protection of the Christians unashamable, Mediation to the Creator Immovable, despise not, the pleading voices of those in sin, but hasten O Good One, to the Aid of all of us, who in Faith cry out to Thee: hurry Thine Intercession, and present Thy Supplication, O Theotokos who always protects all those who honour Thee!

Matins Gospel According to St Luke 21 : 12 – 19
The Persecution of the Ungodly, Fallen World

At that time our Lord said to His Disciples: “Beware of men, for they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you to the Synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before Kings and Governors for My Name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your mind, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and Wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for My Name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your Endurance you will gain your lives.”

St Paul’s Second Epistle to St Timothy 2 : 1 – 10
Transmitting the Faith, Strengthening Others, Discipline & Suffering

Timothy my Son: be strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a Good Soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, so that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the Rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord grant you Understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ, of the Seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my Gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the Word of God is not chained.

The Holy Gospel According to St John 15 : 17 - 16: 2
Our Lord Jesus Christ Teaches us about Union & Communion with Him

At that time our Lord Jesus said: “... These Things I Command you, so that you Love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet - because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world – the world hates you. “Remember the Word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his Master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My Word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My Name’s sake, because they do not know Him Who sent Me. “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. “He who hates Me, hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the Works that no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated Me and My Father. “But this happened that the Word might be fulfilled, which is written in their Law: ‘They hated Me without cause.’

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Beginning of Triodion – T h e P u b l i c a n & t h e P h a r i s e e – 5 F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 2

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“And when the Helper comes, Whom I shall send you FROM THE FATHER – the Spirit of Truth Who PROCEEDS FROM THE FATHER, He will Testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning. “These Things I have spoken to you so that you should not be made to stumble. “They will put you out of the Synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God Service. “And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.”

St Charalambos the Great Hieromartyr of Thessaly
Although our Holy Fathers and Mothers of the Orthodox Church may no longer be physically present among us, they certainly continue their Intercessory Prayers and by the Grace of God still perform many inexplicable and extraordinary Miracles according to the Will of God. (mp) A certain Official of the Election Council, “Tomorrow is the Feast of St Charalambos... you Konstantinos Livadan, relates his wonderful will indeed be well!” Experience of just such a Blessed Miracle that I fell into a deep sleep and the fever passed. In the occurred when he was young: morning when I awoke, I felt totally well and for “In January 1931 I was hospitalised in the Polyclinic of the first time after such a long period of suffering Athens with a liver abscess. For four weeks I was I was completely free of any pain at all! tortured by a fever. Day and night I suffered with When the Surgeon-Professor (Dr N Alivizatos) and his a 38-40oC fever and terrible pains. brother, (Dr Andreas Alivizatos) examined me in The Doctors decided that I should undergo surgery in order to prepare me for surgery, they were order to save my life. amazed to find that the liver abscess had The night before the Feast of St Charalambos – 9 disappeared altogether. Neither was there any February 1931 – I was in a serious condition, with trace of sclerosis or any other disease of the liver! a raging fever and feeling extremely ill. My liver was completely normal and healthy – as Then I suddenly noticed a magnificent Priest, with a though I had never been ill before! very long beard, walking towards me. I thought he Sister Evanthia informed the Doctors of the had come to visit the dying patient who lay in the Mysterious Visitation of St Charalambos the night bed directly across from me but he came and before, having already shown me a Holy Icon of stood beside me and gently touched my head, the Holy Hieromartyr whom I instantly recognised! saying: “Do not be afraid... tomorrow you will be The two brothers looked at each other in utter totally well. You are a good boy!” astonishment. And as they told others afterwards: When he had departed, I asked the nurse, Nun “We put up our hands, and put down our knives for Evanthia: “Who was that Priest who visited me just today a Miracle of St Charalambos occurred at the now?” And she looked at me in puzzlement and Polyclinic!” replied: “There was no Priest here!” Only later, I learnt that St Charalambos is a Patron So I told her what had occurred and she Blessed Saint of those who suffer infectious diseases, with herself with the Sign of the Cross and said: which I had been afflicted so severely. Other Miracles wrought by St Charalambos’ Intercessory Prayers on our behalf In 1687, when the Turks had besieged Pyrgou, St they could go – and while they had been Charalambos responded to the desperate preoccupied and defeated in the city, the Greeks had Supplications of the suffering Faithful by striking the organised themselves properly and were able to Turkish army with a fatal sickness that caused many deliver a fatal blow to the enemy. of Ahmet Efendi’s soldiers to die. In 1941, the armed forces of Italy were planning to Consequently, with the ranks being decimated by bomb Pyrgou, but a few hours before their attack disease and death, the Turks withdrew from their could begin, a dense fog enveloped the city, which siege, the city was saved and the Faithful were resulted in the eventual cancellation of their deadly Delivered by Divine Grace. mission and the Salvation of the city. A most terrible plague in 1860 was miraculously averted Before the German forces were notified and understood from the Faithful inhabitant of Pyrgou, Eleias, after the problem, which they quickly tried to resolve, the they had so fervently prayed to St Charalambos for inhabitants of the city had prepared themselves for his intercessory Prayers with God. the bombing, yet none of the Faithful inhabitants In fact, the people of Pyrgou witnessed a most suffered since all the bomb fell in isolated areas – astounding occurrence: St Charalambos was clearly and most of them did not explode! seen driving away a large white cloud into the sea, On 26 March 1991, a great earthquake struck Pyrgou at which was understood as the manifestation of the 14:10 – there were two quakes of 5.5 and 5.8 on the plague that he banished from that region as well as Richter Scale, separated by a three minute pause, so various others such as Thessaly, Savalia and the ultimate damage was not as destructive as it Demetsana, where they renamed the Church of the would normally have been. Entrance of the Theotokos in honour of St This division of such a powerful earthquake was a Charalambos because of his Miraculous Intervention scientific phenomenon of note and especially by the Grace of God. because for a while before it occurred, there were St Charalambos’ Intercessory Prayers are also credited small, warning vibrations at night, which acted as a for the deliverance from the devastating influenza forewarning to the citizens to prepare themselves for pandemic of 1918 of Eleia and in Greece, which had an earthquake. caused untold numbers of people to perish At the time of the earthquakes, many small children with throughout the world. their beautiful innocent eyes witnessed and testified In 1821 the Turks entered and besieged Pyrgou in an to the mysterious “Pappou” (“Grandfather”) with attempt to reach Tripolitas and eradicate the the long, white beard, who held up the walls of revolutionary soldiers from the area. After having the homes of the Faithful people with his burnt part of Pyrgou, they tried to reach the central extended arms “...so that they would not fall road with their weapons and supplies. down.” However, just outside the small Church of St After the earthquake many people experienced the Charalambos, a small group of dedicated Greek same Holy Vision of St Charalambos who told soldiers had camped, and once again, through the them that God had separated the earthquake Intercessory Prayers of St Charalambos, the overwhelming numbers of invading Turks were into two separate tremors after St repelled and forced to retreat. Charalambos had beseeched Him for the The Turks were forced to seek other diverse routes to Salvation of the Faithful in that city. Triplitsa but there was only one pass through which HTTP://FULL-OF-GRACE-AND-TRUTH.BLOGSPOT.COM /STCHARALAMPOS

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St Charalambos, Great Hi eromartyr of Thessaly – 10 February 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honour and Wo rship to t he Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

3 4 t h S u n d a y Af t e r P e n t e c o s t 2nd

Tone 2

12 February 2012

Sunday of Triodion –17th Sunday of St Luke Sunday of the Prodigal Son

Feast of St Meletios of Antioch – St Alexis, Wonderworker of Moscow & All Russia- St Meletios of Kharkov – St (Mary) Marinos & her father, St Eugene of Bithynia, Asia Minor - St Anthony of Constantinople – St Kristo the Gardener of Albania – St Prochoros of Georgia – St Nicholas Dvali of Georgia & Jerusalem – St Bassian of Uglich – The Holy Hieromartyrs of the Georgian Monasteries in Jerusalem, including St Luke and St Prokhore of Georgia

Resurrection Apolytikion

TONE 2

Ote katilthes pros ton Thanaton, i Zoi i Athanatos, tote
ton Adin enekrosas ti astrapi tis Theotitos. Ote de ke tous tethneotas ek ton katahthonion Anestisas, pase e Dinamis ton Epouranion ekravgazon. Zoodota Hriste, O Theos imon, Doxa Si!
Triodion Kontakion of the Prodigal Son

When Thou condescended to Death,

O Life Immortal, Thou slayed Hades with the lightning flash of Thy Divinity. When also Thou Raised up the dead from the subterranean abodes, all the Powers of Heaven cried aloud: O Life-giver, Christ our God, Glory to Thee! I ran away, from Thy Glory, O Father, and wasted in sin, all the wealth that Thou granted me. Therefore, the Prodigal’s cry I repeat to Thee: I have sinned, before Thy Compassionate Father. Do accept me in repentance, and make me again, one of Thy hired hands.

Tis Patroas Doxis Sou, aposkirtisas afronos, en kakis
eskorpisa, on mi paredokas plouton. Othen Si, tin tou Asotou fonin krafvgazo. Imarton, enopion Sou Pater iktirmon. Dixe me metavoonta, ke piison me os ena ton misthion Sou.

Foolishly

Resurrection Gospel 2: Mark 16:1 - 8
The Holy Myrrh-bearers Witness the Empty Tomb of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ

Prokeimenon

Let Thy Mercy be upon us, O Lord, as we have set our Hope Rejoice in the Lord, all Righteous men.
Concerning Immorality & the Holy Church as a Temple

in Thee.

St Pa u l’ s F ir s t E pi s t le t o t he C or i nt h i an s 6 : 1 2 – 2 0
Brethren: All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His Power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “...the two...” He says, “... shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a person commits is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that you body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. “All things are lawful for me...” may be a statement St around. In such a manner, WE LEARN TO BECOME MORE SPIRITUAL BEINGS – WORTHY CITIZENS OF GOD’S Paul made in Corinth sometime earlier – perhaps HEAVENLY, ETERNAL KINGDOM. regarding the Mosaic Cleanliness Law – which the For that reason the Orthodox Church encourages us to Libertines took out of context as their slogan. abstain from foods, which is the first discipline of the Consequently, St Paul set the record straight by explaining Fast, as well as all the other physical pleasures of life, that WITHOUT DISCIPLINE AND DISCERNMENT THROUGH through self-denial by FOCUSSING OUR ATTENTION ON OUR OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST, FREEDOM FROM LAW IS
SLAVERY TO SIN!

The Libertines in Corinth – as some do today – argued that illicit sex – adultery and fornication – is as necessary for the body as eating, and that both are irrelevant to our Spiritual Life. However, as St Paul points out very clearly: OUR BODIES
BELONG TO GOD AND EVERYTHING WE SAY, THINK OR DO IN THIS PREPARATORY PERIOD BEFORE ETERNITY IS MOST CERTAINLY RELEVANT TO OUR SPIRITUAL WELFARE! Therefore, DEALING WITH SIN – AVOIDING TEMPTATION AND REPENTING OUR SINS – MEANS WE CONTROL OUR BODIES THROUGH SELF-DISCIPLINE AND SELF-DENIAL OF THE FLESH.

REPENTANCE, CONFESSION, PRAYERS AND ALMSGIVING – OCCUPYING OURSELVES WITH VIRTUOUS THOUGHTS, WORDS AND DEEDS.

Everything to do with our physical existence is merely temporary and will not last, while EVERYTHING
CONCERNING OUR IMMORTAL SOULS LASTS FOREVER AND RESULTS IN THE TYPE OF ETERNITY WE WILL HAVE.

When St Paul refers to our bodies as “members of Christ,” he reminds us of OUR HOLY UNION WITH
CHRIST OUR LORD DURING OUR HOLY BAPTISM.

R O M A N S 6 : 3 – 1 0 : “... our Old Man was crucified

By controlling the desires of the flesh – i.e. all our physical desires and demands - WE TEACH OUR SOULS TO BE IN CONTROL OF OUR BODIES rather than the other way

with Him, so that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died as been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also Live with Him,

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34 AP – 2 Triodion – 17th of St Luk e – Prodi gal Son - 12 February 2012

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knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him, for the Death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the Life that He lives, He Lives to God.” To have died to sin does not mean our human nature has died. Rather, it means that WE ARE NO LONGER HELD
CAPTIVE BY SIN AND WE ARE NOW IMMOVABLE TOWARDS SIN JUST LIKE SOMETHING THAT WAS DEAD WOULD BE.

Fornication and adultery is therefore a sin to be fled from in horror, for it joins, through our own immorality, Christ to harlots!

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WE HAVE MANY IMPROPER DESIRES, BUT WE MUST REPRESS THEM, BECAUSE WE CAN! (ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM) WE ARE SANCTIFIED, HOLY TEMPLES OF GOD because OUR BODIES BELONG TO GOD AND THE HOLY TRINITY DWELLS WITHIN US when we are cleansed from our

Our freedom from sin is grounded in the Holy Mystery of Baptism yet ignorance of what happens when we are Baptised is a great enemy since through such ignorance, many are defeated in their battle against wickedness.

sins – in a state of Repentance, Prayer and Worship of God. The Holy Spirit dwells within us as His Holy Temple in order to Guide, Teach, Inspire and Watch over us, etc.

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ANY FORM OF BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT IS AN UNFORGIVABLE SIN.

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WHAT CHRIST ACCOMPLISHED ON THE CROSS – AN ACTUAL DEATH TO SIN – HOLY BAPTISM ACCOMPLISHES IN US: AN ACTUAL DEATH TO SIN AND OUR LIBERATION FROM ITS ENSLAVING POWER – SINCE OUR BAPTISM INTO CHRIST GIVES US HIS POWER OVER TEMPTATION AND SIN – AN EXACT LIKENESS TO CHRIST’S DEATH ON THE CROSS. ® Consequently, OUR HOLY BAPTISM does not merely “stand for” this Divine Truth but IS ITSELF OUR DEATH TO SIN. Being united with Christ refers to GROWING TOGETHER IN CHRIST – WHICH IMPLIES THE EXPECTATION OF A GOOD SPIRITUAL HARVEST – BEARING OF GOOD FRUIT – THE FINAL RESULTS OF OUR SPIRITUAL LABOURS IN CHRIST JESUS.

Therefore, if we knowingly commit sins against ourselves, thus harming or desecrating our Holy Temples – our God-owned bodies – it is a sin against God and especially the Holy Spirit for IN A STATE OF
UNREPENTANT SIN, WE EXPEL OR CAUSE GOD TO LEAVE US AS HE CANNOT BE WHERE THERE IS SPIRITUAL DARKNESS OR DEATH.

We would certainly be extremely offended if someone were to paint graffiti all over our Parish churches, or commit other outrages inside or outside the walls of such hallowed ground, yet we continuously commit similar outrageous offences to our Sanctified bodies! St Paul always encourages the Faithful to P R A C T I S E C E L I B A C Y wherever possible – ESPECIALLY IF NOT MARRIED IN THE SIGHT OF GOD for he knew that
CELIBACY IS A DIVINE GIFT GRANTED TO THOSE CONCERNED – ALTHOUGH VERY FEW ARE GRANTED IT.

The Holy Gospel According to St Luke 15 : 11 – 32
The Prodigal Son – Repentance & Forgiveness

At that time, our Lord Jesus said: “A certain Man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his Father: ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So He divided between them His Livelihood. And not many days later, the younger son gathered all his possessions together and journeyed to a far country where he wasted his possessions with prodigal living. “And when he had spent everything, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in need. So he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, yet no one gave him anything. “And when he came to himself, he said: ‘How many of my Father’s hired servants have enough bread to eat and to spare, yet I perish from hunger! I will arise and go to my Father, and I will say to Him: “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before Thee, and I am no longer worthy to be called Thy son. Make me like one of Thy hired servants.”’ “And he arose and went to his Father. And when he was still a great way off, his Father saw him and had Compassion, and ran, and fell upon his neck and kissed him. “And the son said to Him: ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before Thee, and I am no longer worthy to be called Thy son.’ “But the Father said to his servants: ‘Bring out the best Robe and put it on him, and put a Ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet. And fetch the Fatted Calf and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this, My son was Dead and is Alive again; he was Lost and is Found!’ and they began to be merry. “Now His older son was in the field. And as he went and drew near to the House he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him: ‘Your Brother has returned, and because He received him safe and sound, your Father has killed the Fatted Calf.’ “And he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his Father went out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his Father: ‘Behold, these many years I have been serving Thee; I never transgressed Thy Commandment at any time; and yet Thou never gave me a young goat, so that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of Thine returned – having devoured Thy Livelihood with harlots – Thou killed the Fatted Calf for him.’ “And He said to him: ‘Son, you are always with Me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your Brother was Dead and is Alive again; and was Lost and is Found.’” ® SATAN FIRST TEMPTS US INTO A SPIRITUAL DEATH AND THE YOUNGER, IMMATURE SON’s request for his “portion of THEN TRIES TO KEEP US THERE AND AWAY FROM goods” (“ousia” = “essence”) from his Father,
SIGNIFIES US HUMAN BEINGS RECEIVING OUR FREE WILL (TO PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH PATH TO FOLLOW) AND OUR RATIONAL MIND FROM OUR GRACIOUS LORD GOD. Just as Adam did in Paradise, THE YOUNGER SON USED THESE WONDERFUL POSSESSIONS – DIVINE GIFTS – TO REBEL AGAINST HIS (HEAVENLY) FATHER. 8 T H E “ F A R C O U N T R Y ” to which the Prodigal Son journeyed represents A LIFE IN EXILE FROM THE GOODNESS AND BLESSINGS OF GOD. ® WHENEVER WE ARE IN A STATE OF SIN, WE ARE ALIENATED AND EXILED FROM DIVINE GOODNESS – GOD’S BLESSINGS IN A STATE OF SLAVERY AND IMPRISONMENT.

® However, the evil one cannot destroy us himself and like the Prodigal Son, BY GOD’S GRACE, WE
WILL EVENTUALLY AWAKEN FROM OUR GODLESS STUPOR AND REALISE OUR PREDICAMENT, AND YEARN FOR HIS BLESSINGS AND GOODNESS. ® BEING IMMERSED IN THE DARKNESS OF SIN, IS EXISTING OUTSIDE OUR NATURAL HUMAN STATE. F E E D I N G S W I N E could rightly be called “Jewish Skid Row,” because IN SUCH A STATE OF DEBAUCHERY AND SELF-INDULGENCE, WHICH RESULTED IN COMPLETE DESTITUTION – BOTH PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL - THE PRODIGAL SON COULD NOT POSSIBLY SINK MUCH LOWER. “ . . . W H E N H E C A M E T O H I M S E L F . . . ” As soon as we

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we are a great distance from God.

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HAVING UNITED HIMSELF TO “ ... A CITIZEN OF T H A T C O U N T R Y . . . ” is an oblique reference to THE EVIL ONE WHO IS OBSESSED WITH OUR DESTRUCTION AND ALIENATION FROM GOD AND ALL HIS GOODNESS.

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“come to” ourselves – when our sanity is restored -

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34 AP – 2 Triodion – 17th of St Luk e – Prodigal Son - 12 February 2012

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WE RETURN TO THE DIVINE LIGHT AND REGAIN OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE IN CHRIST. ® THE PRODIGAL SON ACKNOWLEDGED HIS HOPELESS CONDITION – Spiritual Death and alienation from God and all His Blessings – AND IMMEDIATELY PREPARED HIS CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE. T H E “ B R E A D ” to which the Prodigal Son refers SYMBOLISES OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST Who is known

®

WE ARE ABLE

to follow in the Footsteps of our Saviour, according to His Holy Gospel – BY THE
WILL OF GOD THE FATHER, THROUGH THE TEACHINGS OF GOD THE SON, AND ACTIVATED, INSPIRED AND ENABLED BY GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT.

E P H E S I A N S 6 : 1 4 - 1 5 “... Stand therefore, having

to us throughout Holy Scripture and especially in the Holy Eucharist – the Divine Liturgy.

Girded yourself with Truth, having put on the Breastplate of Righteousness, and having shod your feet with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace...” ® CHRISTIANS FIGHT AGAINST ALL EVIL ARMED WITH
DIVINE ARMOUR, WHICH IS GOD’S UNCREATED DIVINE ENERGY, GIVEN TO US AT HOLY BAPTISM AND USED BY US THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES AS WE BATTLE IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE EVERY MOMENT OF THE DAY. AS FAITHFUL DISCIPLES OF CHRIST WE HAVE PUT ON all the qualities bestowed upon us AS SPIRITUAL ARMOUR: TRUTH, RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE AND FAITH, which are constantly to be used in the

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“...HIS FATHER SAW HIM AND ... RAN...”

Although it was considered undignified and unfitting behaviour for a mature man or elderly person to run,
THE FATHER EXPRESSED HIS LOVE AND EAGERNESS TO WELCOME THE RETURN OF HIS LOST CHILD BY RUNNING TO HIM AND EMBRACING HIM WARMLY. ® THIS SELF-HUMILIATION FOR THE SAKE OF HIS LOST SON INDICATES THE MANNER WHEREBY OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, THROUGH HIS SON AND OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST’S SACRIFICE, ACTIVELY AND PATIENTLY AWAITS AND JOYOUSLY WELCOMES ALL THOSE WHO RETURN SAFELY TO HIS LOVING EMBRACE. T H E R O B E signifies RIGHTEOUSNESS GRANTED TO US BY OUR HOLY BAPTISM.

®

conflict we face as we proceed ever closer to God and His Heavenly Kingdom. ® WITHOUT
STRUGGLE THERE DEIFICATION – THEOSIS PERFECTION. T H E F A T T E D C A L F is more closely CAN BE NO OR SPIRITUAL

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6 1 : 1 0 “... they shall have exceeding Gladness in the Lord. Let my soul rejoice exceedingly in the Lord, for He clothed me with the Garment of Salvation and the Tunic of Gladness. He put a Mitre around me like a Bridegroom and adorned me with Ornaments like a Bride. As the earth causes its flower to grow, and a s a garden its seeds, so shall the Lord cause Righteousness to rise up, and exceeding Joy before all the Gentiles.” St John Chrysostom and all our Holy Church Fathers have taught us that “THE GARMENT OF SALVATION” IS CHRIST
HIMSELF.

ISAIAH

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translated as the “wheat-fed bull-calf” or “Bull-calf formed from wheat,” which is a male calf that has been raised on wheat in preparation FOR USE AS A SACRIFICIAL

OFFERING.

® As the Reconciliation of the Prodigal Son was not complete without the sacrifice of the calf, so too OUR RECONCILIATION WITH GOD IS
ACCOMPLISHED AND PERFECTED - NOT BY OUR REPENTANCE ALONE BUT BY CHRIST HAVING OFFERED HIMSELF AS THE ULTIMATE, FINAL AND MOST PUREST OFFERING OF ALL.

This explains why St Paul taught us that in Holy Baptism we “PUT ON CHRIST.” G A L A T I A N S 3 : 2 7 “For as many of you as were Baptised into Christ have put on Christ.” ® St Paul directly relates our SAVING FAITH AND BEING BAPTISED by connecting them as OUR MOST
PRECIOUS AND INTIMATE BLESSINGS FROM GOD.

The festive dining on an animal offering “formed from wheat” is a clear reference to our Partaking of the Holy Eucharist – THUS OUR RECONCILIATION WITH GOD IS
THROUGH REPENTANCE-CONFESSION AND HOLY EUCHARIST – FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND ETERNAL LIFE. Consequently, BOTH THE OLD AND THE NEW COVENANTS ARE FULFILLED AT THE MARRIAGE OF CHRIST THE HEAVENLY BRIDEGROOM AND HIS BRIDE, THE HOLY CHURCH. 8 T H E R E S E N T F U L O L D E R B R O T H E R signifies THE HARDHEARTEDNESS OF THE PHARISEES AND ALL SELFRIGHTEOUS, STUBBORN AND UNREPENTANT SINNERS to

® This particular verse is the ancient Hymn CHANTED
AT ALL CHRISTIAN BAPTISMS DURING THE PROCESSION OF THE NEWLY REGENERATED INTO THE ASSEMBLY. T H E S I G N E T R I N G signifies FAMILY IDENTITY – OUR ADOPTION AT HOLY BAPTISM AS A CHILD OF GOD AND CO-HEIR WITH CHRIST TO OUR HEAVENLY FATHER’S KINGDOM.

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whom Christ related this Parable. ® GOD REQUIRES HIS FAITHFUL PEOPLE TO REJOICE
WHENEVER EVEN THE MOST GUILTY PERSON RETURNS TO GOD THROUGH SINCERE REPENTANCECONFESSION. (ST CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA) The eldest son’s FAILURE TO RECOGNISE HIS OWN SINS LEADS TO HIS SELF-RIGHTEOUS AND MERCILESS ATTITUDE.

HAGGAI

2

:

2 3 “... ‘In that day,’ says the Lord

®

Almighty, ‘I shall take you, Zerubbabel, My servant, son of Shealtiel... and shall make you like a Signet Ring; for I have chosen you.’” ® OFFICIAL ROYAL ACTS IN THE ANCIENT WORLD WERE
AUTHENTICATED BY THE USE OF A MONARCH’S SIGNET RING so by designating Zerubbabel as

His Signet, the Lord was, in effect, stating that
HE WOULD BE ACTING AS GOD’S VICE-REGENT, CHARGED WITH CARRYING OUT HIS SUPREME RULE AND DIVINE WILL.

® Contrast this with the contrition of the Prodigal Son: “The one who seems to himself to be Righteous, who does not see the beam in his own eye, becomes angry when Forgiveness is granted to one who Confesses his sins and begs for Mercy.”
(ST AMBROSE OF MILAN)

® On a deeper level: this is a strong Messianic Prophecy. “When our soul becomes peaceful... then she (our soul) will receive Christ like a Signet Ring upon her, for she is the Image of God. Then she will be according to that Image, because Heavenly is the Heavenly Man. And we need to bear the Image of the Heavenly One, that is, Peace ... I wish the Lord Jesus may say to you: ‘Put Me as a Seal upon your arm.’ May Peace glow in your heart, Christ in your Works, and may there be formed in you Wisdom and Justice and Redemption.” (ST AMBROSE OF
MILAN)

® The older son’s INGRATITUDE IS ALSO APPARENT IN HIS ACCUSATION: “... Thou never gave me a young goat...” ® Meanwhile HIS LOVING FATHER HAS GRANTED HIM
EVERYTHING HE HAS! WE ALWAYS COMPLAIN

about and desire what we think we are lacking in material possessions and wealth WHEN

WE SHOULD BE CONSTANTLY EXPRESSING OUR DEEPEST GRATITUDE TO GOD FOR ALL HIS ABUNDANT BLESSINGS. WHEN WE LEARN TO ACKNOWLEDGE OUR BOUNDLESS BLESSINGS AND EXPRESS THANKSGIVING TO GOD FOR HIS GREAT MERCY IN ALL THINGS, WE WILL NEVER BE DISSATISFIED WITH ANYTHING IN THIS LIFE. Instead WE WILL BE OVERJOYED BY HOW MUCH GOD HAS GRANTED US EACH AND EVERY MOMENT OF THE DAY – no

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T H E S A N D A L S signify how WE ARE EQUIPPED TO WALK THE PATH OF RIGHTEOUS.

matter how others may try to tempt us into a state of discontentment and ingratitude! COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS AND THANK GOD CONSTANTLY!

Confession: The Sacrament of Repentance and Reconciliation – Part 1

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34 AP – 2 Triodion – 17th of St Luk e – Prodi gal Son - 12 February 2012

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Few would argue against the statement that the Sacrament of Confession is on the decline in the Greek Orthodox Church. While it is not my intention here to explain the reasons for it, one could speculate that this decline is due to the morally and spiritually lax standards of our modern society to which we have become accustomed. Perhaps sins - which in the past would have given rise to a sense of regret and a desire to be forgiven - now seem to us to be normal. This decline may also be due to the individualistic attitude of modern society which has influenced Christians also, and which extends even into the area of religion. What I mean by this is that individualism results in the belief that there is just ‘me and God’, and there is no need for any ‘middle-man’ - no need for Priests or even a Church. I cannot attempt to respond to this view here. Confession is the most common term for the Sacrament in question, but it is also (perhaps more correctly) known as ‘The Sacrament of Repentance and Reconciliation’. I think that this better sums up the nature of Confession, and reveals something of its original Purpose. The Sacrament of Confession was originally and still is a Holy Mystery whereby those who have been excommunicated (not necessarily formerly, but have committed sins that have made it impossible to participate in Holy Communion) are Reconciled to the Church and brought back into Communion with the Holy Body of Christ. The second century Christian writing: ‘The Shepherd of Hermas’, informs us that only one Confession was permitted after Baptism: “Whoever is tempted by the devil and sins after that great and reverent calling (baptism) has one repentance. But if he should sin and repent repeatedly it is of no benefit to him”. (THE
SHEPHERD OF HERMAS, FROM THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS, TRANSLATED BY BART D. ERHMAN. LOEB CLASSICAL LIBRARY, 2003)

As Christians became less strict and rigid in their moral and Spiritual Life, Confession became more frequent. Later, the practice of Spiritual Counselling in the Monastic Life came to influence the Sacrament of Confession in our Parishes also. The Monk’s Progress in the Ascetic Life was aided by the continuous Guidance of the Spiritual Father, who was usually the Abbot. The Spiritual Father himself was not necessarily an Ordained Priest, and so the Spiritual Father was not always able to provide Sacramental Absolution, but he would hear the Monk’s sins and Struggles, and advise him accordingly. ( THE ORTHODOX CHURCH HAS ITS SPIRITUAL MOTHERS
AS WELL AS FATHERS. ABBESSES AND OTHER EXPERIENCED NUNS CAN ACT AS ‘SPIRITUAL FATHERS’ NOT ONLY TO OTHER WOMEN, BUT ALSO TO MEN.)

And then, if it was deemed necessary, a Monk who was an Ordained Priest - if the Spiritual Father was not one would grant the Monk Sacramental Absolution with the Spiritual Father’s approval. As a result, Confession has taken on this double character of Sacramental Absolution and Spiritual Counselling. The Holy Mystery of Confession, therefore, should not be seen purely in terms of confessing sins and receiving forgiveness, but also in terms of Spiritual Development. We often find ourselves committing and confessing the same sins again and again, and so we need help to overcome our sins and passions, as well as advice in regards to dealing with moral and Spiritual Dilemmas and other difficult situations erected by our modern life-styles. It is therefore particularly beneficial for anyone who takes their Spiritual Life seriously to have a Confessor who is capable of acting also as a Spiritual Father – an experience and Inspired Spiritual Mentor or Guide - who will help him to progress in the Spiritual Life. This is just as important for the Clergy as it is for the laity.

The Clergy are often dealing with a variety of problems and challenges relating not only to their own Spiritual Life, but also to their Sacred Ministry. It is important for a Priest, however experienced or knowledgeable, to have another Priest to refer to and Confess to. Of course, the Spiritual Father of the Clergy and of all his Flock - including even the Monasteries under his jurisdiction - is the Bishop. It is worth noting, however, that before the Ordination of a man to the Diaconate of Christ, the Bishop requires a letter signed by his Spiritual Father (the ‘Symartyria’) stating that the Spiritual Father has examined the candidate and has found him fit for Ordination. This is a good indication that it is perfectly normal for Priests to act as Spiritual Fathers under the authority of the Bishop, just as in Monasteries where Monks other than the Abbot can act as Spiritual Fathers with the Abbot’s permission. Who is able to act as Confessor depends on the Bishop’s Discernment. In many places in Greece, the Bishop selects certain Priests and appoints them as Confessors through a special Prayer and the ‘Laying on of Hands’. Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain allows all Priests to act as Confessors without any particular Prayer of Appointment. Regardless, no one can act as a Confessor without the Blessing of the Bishop, for he is the Spiritual Father par excellence of all those under his jurisdiction - Clergy and laity alike. The ideal is that the Confessor/Spiritual Father should be a Priest with whom the Spiritual Child can easily have regular contact – if not the local Parish Priest, then at least a Priest who lives in the same city or town. It is, however, a sad reality that some Priests seem to have never been to Confession themselves and therefore do not know what is supposed to happen at Confession or how to advise people in Confession. There is no special training in the Orthodox Church for hearing Confessions, and for good reason, but much can be learnt from the Experience of regular Confession. In the Orthodox Church Confession is done face-toface. There is no such thing as a ‘Confessional Box’ in the Orthodox Church. Confession can take place in any suitable place in the church. This more personal approach is more of a help to Confession than a hindrance. It is one thing to disclose your sins to a wall knowing that someone is listening. It is another thing to sit in full view of someone – even if you cannot look him in the eye – someone who is himself a sinner, and admit to what you are and what you have done. This helps us to humble ourselves and to break the false image of ourselves that we all entertain. There does appear to be - particularly among older people - a serious misunderstanding of the Purpose of Confession. Some seem to think that the Purpose of Confession is to confess one’s ‘Virtues’ (and then to be absolved of those Virtues!). Others seem to think it is a private chat (or even an opportunity for gossip and slander against others!) with the Priest. Still others seem to think that it is simply the necessary Lenten ‘obligation’ whereby we can fulfil our other annual ‘obligation’ - to receive Communion - and there is interest only in the Prayer of Absolution and no real understanding or concern with the Spiritual Preparation beforehand and the Act of Confession itself. (...TO BE CONTINUED...)

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34 AP – 2 Triodion – 17th of St Luk e – Prodigal Son - 12 February 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honour and Worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Vi rgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselve s and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

17 February 2 0 1 2 St Theodore the Commander & Great Martyr
Feast of St Hermogenes the Wonderworker & Hieromartyr of Moscow & All Russia – St Theodore the Silent of the Kiev Caves Monastery – St Mariamne, sister of St Philip the Apostle of Christ – St Menas of Alexandria, Uncovering of Holy Relics – St Joseph of Dionysiou Monastery, Mount Athos – St Auxibios of Soli, Cyprus – St Theodore the New Martyr of Neochorion, near Constantinople – St Theodosios the Bulgarian and his Disciple, St Romanos – St Nicholas Kandaurov – St Finan of Lindisfarne – St Theodore the Hieromartyr of Atchara, Georgia
Apolytikion of St Theodore the Tyro – TONE 2

Megala ta tis Pisteos katorthomea! En ti Pigi tis Flogos, Great
os epi Idatos Anapafseos, O Agios Martis Theodoros igalleto, piri gar olokavtothis, os Artos Idis, ti Triadi prosinekte. Tes aftou ikesies, Hriste O Theos, eleison imas.
Kontakion of St Theodore the Tyro – TONE (8) PLAGAL

are the achievements of Faith! In the fountain of flame, as by the Water of Rest, the Holy Martyr Theodore rejoiced; for having been made a WholeBurnt Offering in the fire, he was offered as Sweet Bread unto the Trinity. By his Prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on our souls. received the Faith of Christ in Thy heart as a Breastplate, Thou trampled upon the enemy hosts, O Much-suffering Champion; and Thou hast been Crowned Eternally with a Heavenly Crown, since Thou art invincible.

Pistin Hristou osi thoraka, endon lavon en kardia Sou, Having
as enantias dinamis katepatisas, Poliathle, ke Stefi Ournio estefthis, eonios os aittitos.

Second Epistle of St Paul to St John 1 : 1 – 13
Divine Truth and Following the Law of Divine Love

The Elder – to the Elect Lady and Her Children whom I Love in Truth - and not only I but also all those who have known the Truth - because of the Truth that abides in us and will be forever. Grace, Mercy and Peace will be with you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in Love and Truth. I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your Children walking in Truth, as we received Commandment from the Father. And now I plead with you, O Lady, not as though I wrote a New Commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we Love one another. This is Love – that we walk according to His Commandments. This is the Commandment – that as you have heard from the beginning - so should you walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not Confess Jesus Christ as Coming in the Flesh. Such a person is a deceiver and an anti-Christ! Look to yourselves – that we do not lose those Things we worked for, but that we may receive a Full Reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the Doctrine of Christ, does not have God. He who abides in the Doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not have this Doctrine, do not receive him into your house – nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face – that our Joy may be full. The Children of your Elect Sister greet you. Amen. The Epistles of St John the Divine Theologian and This type of false ‘apostle’ visited various Christian Beloved Apostle of Christ were written circa 90-95, Communities, posing as the True Holy Apostles of Christ and took advantage of their Christian This particular Epistle concerned the “Tests of True Hospitality and unconditional Love. Christian Care.” However, such evil imposters who use the Holy Church We are reminded by St John the Divine that THE LOVE OF OUR INCARNATE GOD – OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST – of Christ for their own sinister motives are eventually ALWAYS BRINGS GREAT VICTORY OVER THE SIN exposed by their own words, deeds and attitudes. DARKENED WORLD and those who are ungodly AntiThen, as St John the Divine has instructed us, we should Christs – blasphemers and heretics. avoid them at all costs because they will drag us This Epistle is addressed to “the Elect Lady,” which down into their ungodly, destructive ways! actually refers to a Christian Church or Community St John referred to himself as “The Elder” or “Presbyter,” that was under St John’s supervision or oversight. which confirms that according to the New Covenant The Church – “Ekklisia” – is a feminine word in Greek there is not always a distinction between Bishops and is also known as “the Bride of Christ” our Lord and Presbyters (Priests). Who is the Divine Bridegroom. St John was confident that those who stood against the Like our soul, which is also feminine, the Church is Apostolic Church of Christ were in the minority, for always referred to as feminine – “Her” and is spoken he assumed that the Church is one True, concrete of with all due respect that one would have for the (firmly grounded) Unity and that it followed one Holy, Sanctified Bride of Christ our God. Divine Rule Faith – while the unorthodox agree St John warns us against the deadly “deceivers” – the mainly only in their rejection of our Common Faith. heretics and blasphemers who deny the Incarnation By referring to our Lord Jesus Christ “... the Son of the of the Son of God the Father. Father...” strongly refutes the deceivers and gnostics because our Lord is certainly the Eternal Son of God

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St Theodore the Commander

17 February 2012

15.

the Father and the Son is by Divine Nature exactly what His Divine Father is – Eternal, Living God. Furthermore, the Son of God the Father does exactly whatever God the Father does. As early as the first century, false teachers were introducing their own invented non-Traditional practises and thus they broke the Holy Covenant of Unity, which is firmly based on God’s Perfect and Divine Love – Agape – the heart and soul of the New Covenant Life in Christ! The heretics either deny our Lord Jesus’ full Divine Nature (or the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit.) The Hebrews denied that our Lord Jesus is the Christ – the long awaited Messiah – the Anointed One of Almighty God. All these heretics deny that our Lord Jesus Christ is our Eternal Divine Archpriest in His human Nature, and that He will come again – reappear again - in His Glorified human Form to Judge the living and the dead after the General Resurrection and our Final Judgement at the beginning of Eternity and the end of earthly time. The Orthodox Doctrine (Teaching) of the Incarnation “the Doctrine of Christ” – is, according to St John, necessary for Knowledge and Communion with God. “God” is synonymous with “the Father,” but according to the Divine Doctrine of Christ, “the Son” – our Lord Jesus Christ – is also God.

One day when St John went into a public bathhouse, he saw that the infamous gnostic heretic, Cerinthos, was already there as well. St John immediately ran outside exclaiming aloud for all to hear: “Let us get out of here for fear that the place falls in now that Cerinthos the Enemy of the Truth is inside!” TITOS 3 : 10 – 11: “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being selfcondemned.” The “Children of your Elect Sister” is a reference to the Church or Christian Community – the Brethren in Christ or Disciples of Christ - in Ephesos where St John was at the time of writing this Epistle. During the Holy Mystery of Baptism, we become the adopted Children of Light – of God – and also the coHeirs together with Christ our Lord of our Heavenly Father’s Eternal Kingdom. The Holy Church of Christ is thus one large Holy Family and we are all Brethren – Brothers and Sisters - in Christ because we are struggling Faithful Disciples of Christ who are striving to regain our Divine Likeness – Spiritual Perfection - and thus become worthy Citizens of Paradise and Eternal Life.

Holy Gospel According to St Mark 15 : 20,22, 25 & 33 – 41
The Crucifixion of our Lord & Saviour, Jesus Christ

At that time, when they had mocked our Lord Jesus, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him... ...And they took Him to the place, Golgotha, which translated means: “Place of a Skull”... ...Now it was the Third Hour, and they crucified Him... ...Now when the Sixth Hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the Ninth Hour. And at the Ninth Hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice: “Eloi! Eloi! Lama sabachthani?” which is translated: “My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Some of those who stood by, when they heard that said: “Behold! He is calling for Elijah!” And someone ran a soaked a sponge with sour wine, pit it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying: “Leave Him alone – let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.” And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. And the Veil of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the Centurion who stood opposite Him saw that He cried out like that and breathed His last, he said: “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” There were also Women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary, the Mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who went up with Him to Jerusalem.

Eternal Inspired Wisdom of our Holy Church Fathers St. John Cassian
"The greater Miracle is to root out the tinder of luxury from one's flesh rather than to drive unclean spirits from the bodies of others. A more resplendent Wonder is restraint exercised over the wild stirrings of anger by the Virtue of Patience, rather than the capacity to hold sway over the creatures of the air. Much more important is the exclusion of ravening gloom from one's heart than the ability to drive out the sicknesses and the bodily fevers of someone else. Lastly, it is in many ways more remarkable and more sublime Virtue to be able to heal the weaknesses of one's own soul rather than the failings of another's body. The more exalted the soul is by comparison with the body, the more its Salvation is to be preferred; the more valuable and excellent its substance, the graver and more deadly its ruin. This is what is said to the Most Blessed Apostles concerning bodily cures: 'Do not rejoice because demons submit to you...' (Luke 10:20). It was the invoked Name that achieved this and not the power of the Apostles. Therefore they were warned not to dare to lay claim to Blessedness or Glory because of what is done through the Power and the Virtue of God, but rather to make such a claim because the deep Purity of their lives and hearts has earned them the right to have their names written in Heaven."
(CONFERENCES; PAULIST PRESS PGS. 180-181):

St. Symeon the New Theologian
"... imagine some Precious Vessel made out of all God's Commandments, such as Faith, the Fear of God, Humility, Silence from idle speech, Obedience unto death, the elimination of every inward will and movement of the heart, unremitting Penitence and Compunction, Constant Prayer, custody of the eyes, detachment from one's neighbour, and equal Charity toward all, of absence of avarice, Chastity, Hope in God and Perfect Love toward Him, and of all other Virtues that are their consequences. Each of these is as it were a leaf by itself - whether of gold, silver, bronze, or precious stone - and the rest in their order of other materials - all united into one and joined and fitted together by the Holy Spirit. As has been said, they form the person into a useful vessel, into which the Grace of God is poured like New Wine (cf. MATTHEW 9:17)." (THE DISCOURSES; PAULIST
PRESS PG. 286):

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St Theodore the Commander

17 February 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honou r and Worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and fore ver, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

18 February 2012 Saturday of the Souls
Feast of St Leo the Great of Rome – St Kosmas of Yakhrom – St Agapitos the Confessor of Synnada Phrygia – St Falvian the Confessor of Constantinople – St Nicholas the Catholicos of Georgia – St Theodore Komogovin of Serbia – St Victor, St Agapitos, St Dorotheos, St Theodoulos and St Agrippa of Phrygia – St Colman of Lindesfarne
Apolytikion of Saturday of the Souls

O

vathi sofias filanthropos panta ikonomon, ke to simferon pasin aponemon, mone Dimiourge, anapafson Kyrie, tas psihas ton doulon Sou; en si gar tin elpida anethento, to Piiti ke Plasti ke Theo imon. ton Agion anapafson, Hriste, tas psihas ton doulon Sou, entha ouk esti ponos, ou lipi, ou stenagmos, alla zoi atelevtitos.

O

Thou Who with profound Wisdom and Love for mankind, order all things, and grant to all what is to their profit, Only Creator: grant rest, O Lord, to the souls of Thy servants; for they set their every hope in Thee, the Maker and Creator and God of us all. rest, O Christ, among the Saints to the souls of Your servants, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no grieving, but Life Everlasting.

Kontakion Of Saturday Of The Souls – Tone (8) Plagal 4

Meta

Give

St Pa u l’ s F ir s t E pi s t le t o t he T he s s a l on i a n s 4 : 1 3 – 1 7
Those Who Will Participate In Christ’s Return

Brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope, for, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the Voice of an Archangel and the Trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words. This is one of the clearest passages of New Covenant 3. The Resurrection of the dead. Scripture concerning the Second Coming or For those of us who constantly and faithfully Struggle – Reappearance of Christ our Lord and Saviour the Righteous Disciples of Christ – His Glorious The first century document, The Didache, lists three Second Coming is our greatest Joy and Comfort . Signs that will mark the Return of our Lord Jesus For the ungodly and the disobedient – those who are stubbornly unrepentant – it is a great threat for they Christ: 1. The Sign spread out in the Heavens – our Lord fear His Divine Judgement, which - although they Jesus Christ and His Heavenly Hosts might choose to vehemently deny it - is a reality for 2. The Sign of the Trumpet of God all Creation whether one believes it or not!

The Holy Gospel According to St Luke 21: 8 – 9 ; 25 – 27 & 33 – 36
Our Lord Jesus Christ Warns Us About Forthcoming Events Preceding His Glorious Return

At that time, our Lord Jesus said: “Take heed that you are not deceived, for many will come in My Name, saying: ‘I am He...’ and ‘...the time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. “But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately....” “... and there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those thing that are coming on the earth, for the Powers of the Heavens will be shaken. “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a Cloud with Power and Great Glory...” “...Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will by no means pass away. “And take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come upon you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. “Watch, therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Our Lord Jesus Christ warns us against the many false Throughout the centuries, people have anticipated Christ’s prophets and fake “saviours” who will pretend to be visible Reappearance almost to the point of not living Him or who will try to mislead us by claiming to be their lives according to the Will of God. sent to guide us by the Lord our God. Although Christ has prepared us for a difficult life as Those types of prophets of doom and gloom will Christians, He is our solid Rock of Hope and we bring us to despair – a hopeless state of Spiritual must learn to trust God implicitly – without any Death –alienation from God and all His question or doubt. WE MUST CONTINUE TO PRAY, TO REPENT AND TO WORSHIP GOD Blessings.
CEASELESSLY THEREBY ENJOYING A FULFILLED LIFE IN CHRIST – and we must not waste any precious time on

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Saturday of the Souls

18 February 2012

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ridiculous distractions or deceptions of the doomsday prophets who can only confuse us and draw us rapidly into Spiritual Darkness and Exile. In other words: WE MUST STEADFASTLY CONCENTRATE ON
OUR LIFE IN CHRIST BY STRUGGLING DAILY FOR SPIRITUAL PERFECTION IN IMITATION OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR SO THAT NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS TO US, WE WILL BE AS PREPARED AS POSSIBLE TO FACE HIS AWESOME JUDGEMENT SEAT IN DUE TIME – WHICH ONLY GOD THE FATHER KNOWS!

our Most Benevolent and Loving Heavenly Father Who grants us everything we could possible require. We should also fear failing our fellow sinners in our mutual quest for Sanctification and Eternal Life in God’s Heavenly Kingdom. So many “natural disasters” are caused by human greed and error, certainly not due to Divine Wrath. And even when catastrophe strikes that is beyond any human influence, WE MAY REST ASSURED IN THE GREAT
MERCY AND INFINITE LOVE OF GOD.

We must make every effort and use every moment of each day to improve ourselves and our Relationship with God. We must be alert and watchful because the evil one takes every opportunity to manipulate and misdirect our attention by tempting and diverting us with his evil tricks.
EVERY LITTLE STEP CLOSER TO THEOSIS IS WORTH EVERY DROP OF SWEAT OR TEARS. OUR HEARTFELT LOVE FOR GOD AND ALL HIS BEAUTIFUL CREATION MOTIVATES US TO GREATER SPIRITUAL HEIGHTS

Why worry? GOD IS IN CONTROL OF EVERYTHING!

8

WORRY ABOUT THE THINGS THAT WE CAN AND SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT – ALL THOSE THINGS THAT WE NEED TO DO - WHICH WILL AFFECT OUR ETERNITY – ALL THE THINGS THAT CHRIST HAS TAUGHT US. Finally: W H E N C H R I S T D O E S R E T U R N I N A L L H I S GLORY, THERE WILL MOST CERTAINLY BE NO MISTAKING IT FOR ANYTHING ELSE AND THE WHOLE OF CREATION WILL FULLY EXPERIENCE IT.

and the closer we get to God the more confident and assured we become since WE BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND
THAT WITH GOD’S GRACIOUS PROVIDENCE PROTECTION, NOTHING NEED BE FEARED. AND

So, we must not waste our time with nonsense and dangerous deceptions but CONTINUE OUR
SPIRITUAL JOURNEY UNINTERRUPTED FOCUSED UPON OUR ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD ALMIGHTY.

In fact the only fear we should have is one of failure to grow and to progress – and the fear of disappointing

Saturday of the Souls
SINCE THE EARLIEST TIMES, OUR HOLY CHURCH HAS DEDICATED SATURDAY PRIMARILY TO THE IMMORTAL SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAVE REPOSED IN CHRIST.

Christians have always taken care to Pray for their departed relatives, friends and acquaintances – our Brethren in Christ - with dedicated Memorial Services and charitable acts being especially fulfilled on Saturdays IN ORDER TO STAY IN A CLOSE
RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM AND TO CONTINUOUSLY BESEECH GOD FOR HIS GREAT MERCY FOR THEIR PEACEFUL REPOSE AND ETERNAL SALVATION.

1. OUR WORLD OF EXISTENCE DOES NOT CONSIST ONLY WITH WHATEVER WE ARE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE with our five senses – the temporary, visible, material world but also extends into the invisible, Eternal Spiritual Sphere that co-exists with us and into which our immortal souls enter after their separation from our physical, mortal bodies. 2. THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST IS THE CONTINUOUS COMMUNICATION – SPIRITUAL BRIDGE - between those who are still struggling on earth (TO REGAIN OUR LIKENESS
TO GOD – THEOSIS OR SPIRITUAL PERFECTION – WHICH WAS LOST WHEN ADAM AND EVE DISOBEYED GOD’S ONE COMMANDMENT AND FELL FROM DIVINE GRACE) – “THE CHURCH MILITANT” AND THE “CHURCH

Even these days we see more people visiting the cemeteries (THE PLACES OF REST OR SLEEP – NOT OF THE DEAD!) on Saturday than on any other day of the week. Yet we may wonder why Saturday is especially reserved as the day of Commemoration of the departed souls – and there are several explanations. Saturday is the “Sabbath” – the “Day of Rest,” which God has granted for us to relax and recuperate from our usual daily labours. So it is natural to pray for those who have completed their life-spans – their preparation time before Eternity and who are now (as we hope and pray) resting in Peace in Paradise, while awaiting the General Resurrection and our Final Judgement.
SUNDAY IS RESURRECTION DAY – THE LORD’S DAY – WHICH WE JOYFULLY CELEBRATE BY ATTENDING THE HOLY SERVICES OF MATINS AND DIVINE LITURGY IN A SPIRIT OF GREAT THANKSGIVING, GLORIFICATION AND WORSHIP OF ALMIGHTY GOD WHO GRANTS US EVERYTHING THAT IS SO GOOD AND PROFITABLE FOR OUR IMMORTAL SOULS. SO TOO ARE OTHER JOYFUL CELEBRATIONS CONDUCTED ON SUNDAYS SUCH AS HOLY BAPTISM AND HOLY MATRIMONY. ( MP )

TRIUMPHANT” – those who have fulfilled their preparatory time and who now rest peacefully in TOGETHER IN SPIRITUAL UNISON AND Christ. HARMONY WE BESEECH GODS GREAT MERCY for our souls to be granted Eternal Salvation in His Heavenly Kingdom. 3. Amidst the feverish activities and difficulties of daily life, we must ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT EVERYTHING IN THIS TEMPORARY LIFE WILL END – sooner or later – and “the Remembrance of Death” should compel and encourage us to greater Spiritual Struggles, for there is nothing more certain than Death, yet nothing more uncertain than the Hour of our death!
WHATEVER WE DO IN THIS TEMPORARY TIME OF EARTHLY LIFE, WILL HAVE AN ETERNAL CONSEQUENCE. THEREFORE, WHATEVER OUR WORDS, THOUGHTS OR DEEDS ARE, THEY WILL HAVE A PROFOUND AND EVERLASTING AFFECT ON OUR ETERNITY – WHETHER GOOD OR BAD! FURTHERMORE, WE ONLY HAVE ONE SHOT AT GETTING OURSELVES RIGHT WITH GOD AND EACH OTHER – SO WE MUST MAKE EVERY EFFORT AND SEIZE EVER OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE OUR SPIRITUAL WELFARE AND DRAW AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE TO ALMIGHTY GOD IN WHOSE ETERNAL, HEAVENLY KINGDOM WE ALL DESIRE TO BE! ( MP )

Starting from this point of view, it is worth expressing a few thoughts so that we of today may remember again the Great Truths concerning “Saturday of the Souls.” Properly speaking, THERE ARE TWO “SATURDAY OF THE
SOULS” – THE ONE IS ON THE SATURDAY PRECEDING MEATFARE OR FINAL JUDGEMENT SUNDAY AND THE OTHER IS ON THE SATURDAY BEFORE PENTECOST.

Nevertheless, every Saturday, generally, is the day for contemplating those most basic and Saving Truths:

ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “THE ORTHODOX MESSENGER” JAN/FEB 1992 – ARCHBISHOP STYLIANOS OF AUSTRALIA http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/liturgics/stylianos_saturday_souls.h tm

The Eternal, Inspired Wisdom of our Holy Fathers
St John of Kronstadt "When you read a worldly magazine or newspaper, it is the enemy of everything Holy and who : '... takes light and agreeable reading, and you easily believe in away the Word out of their hearts.' (LUKE 8:12). everything in it. “When we read worldly books, we do not touch him and he “But if you take up a religious publication or book to read, does not touch us. But as soon as we take up religious especially one relating to Church Matters, or books - as soon as we begin to think of our sometimes when you begin reading Prayers - you feel Amendment and Salvation, then we go against him. we a weight upon your heart - you are tormented by irritate and torment him, and therefore he attacks us doubt and unbelief, and experience a sort of darkness and torments us until we surrender to him. and aversion. “ What can we do? We must not throw aside the Good “Many acknowledge this. Work, the Orthodox Reading or Prayers that are “From what does it proceed? Of course, not from the profitable to our souls, and we must patiently Endure nature of the books themselves, but from the nature of and in Patience Save our souls!" (MY LIFE IN CHRIST; HOLY TRINITY MONASTERY PGS. 176-177): the readers - from the nature of their hearts, and, chiefly, from the Devil - from the enemy of mankind -

18.

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Saturday of the Souls

18 February 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honour and Worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pu re, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

35th Sunday After Pentecost

Tone 3 19 February 2012 3rd Sunday of Triodion Meatfare Sunday Sunday of the Final Judgement of Christ

Feast of St Archippos, St Philemon, & St Apphia of the 70 Apostles of Christ our Lord – St Maximos, St Theodotos, St Hesychios & St Asclepiodota of Adrianopolis – St Eugene & St Makarios, Confessor Presbyters of Antioch – St Dositheos, Disciple of St Dorotheos, of Palestine – St Rabulas of Samosata – St Theodore of Sanaxar – St Conan of Pethukla Monastery, Jordan River – St Philothea the Monastic of Athens
Resurrection Apolytikion - TONE 3

Evfrenestho ta Ourania, agaliastho ta epigia, oti epiise Let the Heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad, for the
Kratos en Vrahioni Aftou O Kyrios. Epatise to Thanato ton Thanaton.Prototokos ton nekron egeneto. Ek kilias Adou errisato imas ke pareshe to kosmo to Mega Eleos.
Kontakion Of Meatfare Sunday – TONE 1

Lord has shown Strength with His Arm; He has trampled down Death by Death; He has become the First-born of the dead; from the womb of Hades He has delivered us, and to the world He has granted Great Mercy. God, when Thou come upon the earth in Glory, the whole world will tremble. A River of Fire will bring all before Thy Judgement Seat and the Books will be opened, and everything in secret will become public. At that time, Deliver me from the Fire that never dies, and enable me to stand by Your right Hand, O Judge Most Just.

Otan elthis O Theos, epi gis meta Doxis, ke tremosi ta O
simpanta, potamos de tou piros, ipo tou Vimatos elki, ke Vivli anigonte, ke ta kripta dimosievonte, tote Rise me, ek tou piros tou asovestou, ke axioson, ek dexion Sou me stine, Krita dikeotate.

Resurrection Gospel 3:

Mark 16:9 - 20

The Risen Christ Appears To His Apostles & Disciples Before His Ascension

Prokeimenon

The Lord is my Strength and my Glory! The Lord has Punished me severely – but He has not delivered me to Death!
The First Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians 8: 13 – 9 : 2
Love (Agape) Reigns Over Knowledge

Brethren: Food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we better nor if we do not eat are we worse. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours becomes a Stumbling Block to those who are weak! For is anyone sees you who have Knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things that are offered to the idols? And because of your Knowledge shall the weak Brethren perish – for whom Christ Died? But when you thus sin against the Brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ! Therefore, if food makes my Brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my Brother stumble! Am I not an Apostle? Am I not Free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? If I am not an Apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you, for you are the Seal of my Apostleship in the Lord. THAT IS WHY THE INTERTWINED VIRTUES OF HUMILITY AND Whether we Fast from certain foods or not makes no OBEDIENCE ARE SO VITAL TO OUR SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT difference to our Spiritual Welfare, since GOD DOES NOT
JUDGE US ON THE FOOD WE EAT, BUT HE DOES JUDGE US ON WHETHER WE LIVE OUR LIVES WITH SELF-DISCIPLE AND LOVE – AND ESPECIALLY HOW TREAT OUR FELLOW SINNERS – OR WHETHER WE SIMPLY INDULGE OURSELVES AND WASTE THIS PRECIOUS TIME! Therefore, St Paul reminds us that WE MUST ALWAYS BE VERY CAREFUL TO NEITHER OFFEND ONE ANOTHER NOR LEAD EACH OTHER ASTRAY BY OUR PERSONAL HABITS, IDEAS OR PREFERENCES. Throughout this life, WE ARE ALL STRUGGLING TO MAKE GOOD SPIRITUAL PROGRESS and IT IS THE SACRED DUTY OF EVERY FAITHFUL DISCIPLE OF CHRIST TO ENCOURAGE, TO SUPPORT AND TO CORRECTLY GUIDE AND TEACH ONE ANOTHER, A little knowledge is a dangerous thing because ALL TOO OFTEN PEOPLE ASSUME THEY FULLY UNDERSTAND SOMETHING WHEN THEY ARE IN FACT MISINFORMED OR FAR LESS KNOWLEDGEABLE THAT THEY REALISE. Therefore, IN ORDER TO LIVE IN CHRIST, WE MUST CONSTANTLY LOOK TO HIM FOR DIVINE GUIDANCE, OR THOSE WHOM HE HAS CALLED TO GUIDE, TEACH AND ADVISE – especially our Holy Church Fathers whose AND PROGRESS.

Christ our Saviour died for all human beings – He paid the ultimate Ransom for the Salvation of all mankind – not for just a select few.
SO IF WE LEAD ANYONE ASTRAY THROUGH OUR OWN MISGUIDED OR ERRONEOUS KNOWLEDGE, WE CAUSE THEM TO SUFFER SPIRITUAL DEATH – i.e. fall into sin, which separates us from God’s Divine Grace and Presence – THE CONSEQUENCES OF WHICH ARE DIRE INDEED! Consequently, WHENEVER WE SIN AGAINST EACH OTHER, WE SIN AGAINST CHRIST – i.e. Almighty God – the Holy

Trinity – for They always operate in Perfect Unity and Harmony. (ALWAYS ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF THE FATHER, THROUGH THE
SON AND BY MEANS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.)

St Paul teaches us that IF WE DO SOMETHING THAT CAUSES
THE SPIRITUAL DEATH OF ANYONE ELSE, WE MUST ENSURE THAT WE NEVER DO SO AGAIN IN CASE IT CAUSES MORE PEOPLE TO FALL INTO WICKEDNESS OR HARM THEM IN SOME OTHER MANNER AS A RESULT, THE BURDEN OF THAT SIN WILL BE UPON US WHO HAVE CAUSED THEIR FALL AND WE WILL BE ETERNALLY CONDEMNED FOR IT, UNLESS WE QUICKLY REPENT AND CORRECT OUR ERROR.

Spiritual Experience is priceless.

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FAITHFUL DISCIPLES OF CHRIST WHO LIVE IN CHRIST, ARE ALWAYS MOTIVATED BY A SELFLESS REGARD FOR THE BENEFIT OF MANY – NEVER FOR THEMSELVES – AND WITHOUT FAIL, FOR THE GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP OF GOD!

The authenticity of St Paul’s Apostleship was often attacked by the Hebrews, so he often had to defend it: “Am I not an Apostle...?” Similar to the Divine Calling of St Paul by our Lord Jesus Christ, others have also been Called by God to serve Him, being filled with the Wisdom and Knowledge – and everything necessary – by the Holy Spirit Who makes such Wonderful, God-

Inspired Work possible to be achieved by mere human beings. THE AUTHENTICITY OF DIVINE CALLING IS IN THE SPIRITUAL FRUIT THAT IS BROUGHT FORTH FOR THE EXCLUSIVE GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP OF ALMIGHTY GOD. THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE CLERGY of the Holy Church of Christ – our Spiritual Shepherds or Holy Fathers - IS
CERTIFIED BY THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF THE FAITHFUL – the Spiritual Flock of God - the Faithful Congregation

or Laity (people of the Parish).

The Holy Gospel According to Matthew 25 : 31 – 46
Divine Judgement of Works at the Second Coming of Christ

At that time, our Lord Jesus said: “When the Son of Man comes in His Glory, and all the Holy Angels with Him, then He will sit on the Throne of His Glory. All the Nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a Shepherd divides His Sheep from the goats. And He will set the Sheep on His right hand side, but the goats on His left. “Then the King will say to those at His right hand: ‘Come, you Blessed of My Father: inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the Foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “And the Righteous shall answer Him, saying: ‘Lord, when did we see Thee hungry and feed Thee, or thirsty and give Thee drink? When did we see Thee, a Stranger, and take Thee in, or naked and clothed Thee? Or when did we see Thee sick, or in prison, and come to Thee?’ “And the King will answer and say to them: ‘Truly, I say to you: inasmuch as you did so to one of the least of these My Brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those at His left: ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the Everlasting Fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a Stranger and you did not take Me in; naked and you did not clothe Me; sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they will answer Him, saying: ‘Lord, when did we see Thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to Thee?’“And He will answer them, saying: ‘Truly, I say to you: inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ “And those will go away into Everlasting Punishment, but the Righteous will go into Eternal Life.” This is the majestic climax of Christ’s Discourse “...the least of these...” is a reference to all the poor, concerning His Second Coming, which is not simply the needy and the destitute of the world – in a Spiritual a Parable but A D I V I N E R E V E L A T I O N O F T H E and a physical sense. UNIVERSAL JUDGEMENT THAT WILL MOST Having been created in the Image and Likeness of God,
CERTAINLY BE FACED BY ALL CREATION.

Since His Passion was soon to be fulfilled, our Lord Jesus raised His Disciples to the Sight of THE GLORY
OF THE SON OF MAN ON HIS AWESOME JUDGEMENT SEAT WITH THE ENTIRE CREATION BEFORE HIM. The standard of Divine Judgement is U N C A L C U L A T E D MERCY TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER.

WE SHOULD SEE ALL HUMANITY AS A REFLECTED DIVINE IMAGE OF GOD and, as Christ so clearly reminds us : when we TREAT OTHERS WITH AS MUCH LOVE AS WE PROFESS TO HAVE FOR GOD, we prove our

integrity. On the contrary, WHEN WE SHOW NEITHER COMPASSION,
KINDNESS NOR ANY DEGREE OF LOVE FOR OTHERS, WE EXPOSE THE WICKEDNESS THAT LURKS WITHIN OUR HEARTS AND SOULS!

The Works or Good Deeds that are produced by True Faith are emphasised by Christ because such SAVING
FAITH ALWAYS PRODUCES RIGHTEOUS WORKS – GOOD DEEDS COMPELLED BY DIVINE, UNCONDITIONAL, ALL ENCOMPASSING LOVE – TRUE AGAPE. WHATEVER WE DO REFLE CTS O UR TRUE INNER STATE.

No matter what lip-service and empty gestures we use to convince others – including ourselves – of how wellintentioned we are, OUR DEEDS ULTIMATELY EXPOSE
THE TRUE CONDITION OF OUR SOULS.

As much as God Blesses us and as much as we expect to receive from Him, WE MUST RECIPROCATE BY TREATING EACH OTHER WITH THE SAME CONSIDERATION – with all our Love, mercy, respect, etc. “Do unto others as you wish others to do unto you!” Furthermore, although we should never do anything in the expectation of reward, WHATEVER WITH WE DO FOR
ANYONE ELSE WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE OF AGAPE, GOD RETURNS TO US “A HUNDREDFOLD” – He grants us a

Consequently, it is essential to our proper Spiritual Development to LEARN TO BE ABSOLUTELY HONEST
WITH OURSELVES, WITH GOD AND WITH EVERYONE ELSE. SPIRITUAL WATCHFULNESS AND CONTINUOUS (CONSTRUCTIVE) SELF-EXAMINATION, WHICH LEADS TO REPENTANCECONFESSION, TEACHES US TO METICULOUSLY SCRUTINISE OUR OWN PERSONAL WEAKNESSES – especially those

hundred times more Blessings! So whether we do good things

or

evil

things,

hidden away in the darkened crevasses of our soul, so that, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, WE CAN EXPOSE SUCH
DEFECTS TO THE DIVINE LIGHT OF GOD’S TRUTH AND HEAL OURSELVES. This is the D A I L Y S P I R I T U A L A C C O U N T I N G that is

recommended for all struggling Disciples of Christ who genuinely wish to improve themselves and their Relationship with God as well as with their fellow human beings.
WE WILL KNOW IF WE ARE MAKING ANY PROGRESS WHEN – INSTEAD OF POINTING ACCUSATORY FINGERS ELSEWHERE – WE IMMEDITATELY TURN THEM INWARDS AND CORRECT OUR OWN GLARING ERRORS. Thereby we L E A R N H U M I L I T Y A N D O B E D I E N C E to

EVERYTHING COMES BACK A HUNDRED TIMES MORE TO US! THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST are not only those who suffer physical hunger and thirst, but who YEARN FOR THE ETERNAL HOPE OF THE HOLY GOSPEL OF CHRIST JESUS. Our Lord used THE ANALOGY OF SHEEP AND GOATS to DIFFERENTIATE THE RIGHTEOUS AND JUSTIFIED FROM THE UNGODLY AND THE UNREPENTANT. AS CHRIST IS OUR GOOD SHEPHERD, WE ARE THE “REASONENDOWED FLOCK OR SHEEP” OF GOD WHO EAGERLY FOLLOW THE SOUND OF HIS VOICE, AND WHO ARE SPIRITUALLY PRODUCTIVE AND GENTLE CREATURES OF THE LORD.

God, which is the very first big step closer to Spiritual Perfection and Eternal Life.

The “goats” are those who remain Spiritually Stubborn and unrighteous for they ignore or refuse to follow the Voice of our Good Shepherd, choosing to risk their lives by walking along the treacherous and dangerous precipices of temptation and sin. Inheritance suggests family members such as sons and daughters rather than strangers or servants, for the
RIGHTEOUS ARE THOSE WHO HAVE BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD BY ADOPTION.

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G A L A T I A N S 4 : 4 – 7 : “... when the fullness of

THIS IS DIVINE REVELATION!

the time had come, God sent forth His Son, Born of a Woman; Born under the Law, to Redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive Adoption as sons.” “Son” refers to Christ as God by Nature. God, then is “Born of a Woman,” and so the Ever Blessed, All Pure, and Ever Virgin Mary is rightly entitled “Theotokos,” which means the Mother of God or the Bearer of God.
I.E. GOD INCARNATE IN THE FLESH (WITHOUT HUMAN SEED, WITHOUT HUMAN FATHER) AND IN HIS HUMAN NATURE FOR IN HIS DIVINE NATURE HIS IS ETERNAL, BEGOTTEN OF GOD THE FATHER, WITHOUT MOTHER

This is what our human existence is all about! This is why we have been granted a temporary, complicated life-time for our Spiritual Preparation! There is no need for discussion or debate because Christ our Lord explicitly tells us about Eternity – the Ages of Ages:
THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO REJECT GOD’S DIVINE TRUTH – WHO THROUGH THEIR WILFUL REBELLION REJECT HIS DIVINE COMMANDMENTS THAT BRING US CLOSE TO HIM “...will

Since Christ was Born under the Law, He can Redeem those under the Law. (INITIALLY THE HEBREWS, AND THEN, LATER, THE
GENTILES – I.E. ALL HUMANITY)

go away into Everlasting Punishment...” which is also referred to by Christ as “Outer Darkness” because it is UTTER SPIRITUAL EXILE OR
ALIENATION FROM GOD AND ALL HIS GOODNESS – A PERPETUAL, UNCHANGEABLE STATE OF SPIRITUAL DEATH AND ETERNAL SUFFERING – THE ABSOLUTE ABSENCE OF ANYTHING PEACEFUL, PLEASANT, JOYOUS OR GOOD! However, THOSE WHO TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO “FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT,” BY CEASELESSLY STRIVING FOR SPIRITUAL PERFECTION AND A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR MOST BELOVED LORD GOD WILL BECOME WORTHY CITIZENS AND CO-HEIRS WITH CHRIST IN GOD’S HEAVENLY KINGDOM OF LOVE, PEACE AND JOY – “... the

THE ONGOING GROWTH INTO DIVINE ADOPTION – BEING AN HEIR OF GOD – IS DEIFICATION OR THEOSIS – SPIRITUAL PERFECTION. This means that WE ARE BECOMING, BY DIVINE GRACE, WHAT GOD IS BY DIVINE NATURE AND EACH OF THE THREE PERSONS OF THE HOLY TRINITY: FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT – IS INVOLVED IN THIS PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION OF HUMANITY. Therefore TO BECOME SONS OF GOD BY GRACE, WE MUST BELIEVE IN AND GET TO KNOW THE FATHER, AND THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. Finally: This is T H E D I V I N E T R U T H C O N C E R N I N G ETERNITY!

These are not words of speculation, imagination - or worse, untruth! The Day of the Last Judgement! That Day no one knows — only God the Father knows — but its Signs are given in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse of the Holy Apostle John the Theologian. Revelation speaks of the Events at the end of the world and of the Last Judgement primarily in images and in a veiled manner. However, the Holy Fathers have explained these images, and there is an authentic Church Tradition that speaks clearly concerning the Signs of the approach of the End, and concerning the Last Judgement. Before the end of life on earth there will be agitation, wars, civil war, hunger, earthquakes… Men will suffer from fear and will die from expectation of calamity. There will be no life, no Joy of Life but a tormented state of falling away from Life. Nevertheless there will be a falling away not only from Life, but from Faith also, and “...when the Son of Man comes, shall He find Faith on the earth?” (LUKE 18:8) Mankind will become proud, ungrateful - rejecting Divine Law. Together with the falling away from Life will be a weakening of moral life. There will be an exhaustion of Good and an increase of evil. Of these times, the Holy Apostle, St John the Theologian speaks in his God-Inspired Work: “The Apocalypse.” He says that he “...was in the Spirit...” when he wrote it, which means that the Holy Spirit Himself was within St John, when under the form of various images, the fate of the Holy Church and the world was opened to him and so this is a Divine Revelation. The Apocalypse represents the fate of the Church in the imagery of a Woman (THE BRIDE OF CHRIST) who hides Herself in the wilderness: She no longer shows Herself in public life, like today ... In public life, forces that prepare the possibility for the appearance of Antichrist will play the leading role. Antichrist will be a man, and not the devil incarnate. “Anti” means “old,” and it also signifies “in place of” or “against.” Antichrist is a man who desires to replace Christ - to occupy His Place and to possess whatever Christ should possess. He desires to possess the Attraction of Christ and Authority over the whole world. Moreover, Antichrist will achieve similar authority before his destruction and the destruction of the world. What is known of this Antichrist? His precise ancestry is unknown: his father is completely unknown, and his mother a foul false ‘virgin’. He will be a Jew of the Tribe of Dan. He will be highly intelligent and endowed

Righteous will go into Eternal Life.” We only have this short life-span to correct ourselves and to reach out to God with all Humility and Obedience, in the confident Hope of Eternal Life and all its indescribable Goodness and Wonders!

St. John Maximovitch - On The Last Judgment
with great skills in handling and manipulating people. He will seem to be most fascinating and kind. The Philosopher, Vladimir Soloviev, worked a long time at presenting the advent and person of Antichrist. He carefully made use of all material on this question, not only Patristic, but also Muslim, and he worked out a brilliant description of him. Before the advent of Antichrist, there is a preparation in the world for the possibility of his appearance (AND ULTIMATE DOMINATION!): "The mystery of iniquity is already at work..." (2 THESSALONIANS 2:7) The forces preparing for his appearance fight above all against the Lawful Imperial Authority (OF ALMIGHTY GOD). The Holy Apostle, St Paul said that Antichrist cannot be manifested until "...what withholds is taken away..." (2 THESSALONIANS 2:6-7). St John Chrysostom explained that the “...Withholding One...” is the Lawful Pious Authority: such an Authority fights against evil. For this reason the “mystery,” already at work in the world, fights against this Authority - it desires a lawless authority. When the “mystery” decisively achieves that authority, nothing will hinder the appearance of Antichrist any longer. He will seem to be fascinating, intelligent, kind, merciful — he will act with ‘mercy and goodness’ - not for the sake of True Mercy and Goodness, but for the strengthening of his own egocentric authority. When he has strengthened it to the point where the whole world acknowledges him, then he will reveal his true face (HIS TRUE, EVIL IDENTITY AND NATURE!) He will choose Jerusalem as his capital city because it was there that our Lord and Saviour revealed His Divine Teaching and Person. It was at Jerusalem that the entire world was Called to the Blessedness of Divine Goodness and Salvation. However, the world failed to acknowledge Christ and crucified Him at Jerusalem - but the whole world will acknowledge and confirm the Antichrist’s authority and consequently Jerusalem will become the capital of the fallen world. Having attained the pinnacle of authority, Antichrist will demand public acknowledgement of his supreme domination and rule, which will never be possible for anyone else afterwards - and then he will demand the worship of himself as the highest, most powerful being – as god! V. Soloviev describes the character of his activity well - as “Supreme Ruler,” he will do whatever is pleasing to his worshipping subjects — but only as long as they

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recognise and worship him as their ‘...most Supreme Authority!” He will allow the Holy Church to exist - permitting Her Divine Services and even promising to build more magnificent churches – again, only on condition that everyone worships him alone as “Supreme Being.” Antichrist will have a personal, obsessive hatred for Christ - he will regard Him as a strong rival and look upon Him as his greatest enemy. He will thrive on this most vicious and wicked hatred and relish the people’s apostasy from Christ. Under Antichrist, there will be an immense falling away from the True Faith in Christ and many Bishops will break their allegiance to our Lord Jesus and try to justify their wicked motives by pointing out the ‘great opportunities’ offered to the Church – persuading other like-minded and ignorant people to follow them. Self-serving compromise will characterise the disposition of mankind. Straight-forwardness, sincerity and Truth of Holy Confession will disappear – or become extremely rare. People will cunningly justify their fall from Divine Grace and Love, and an all-pervading, grasping wickedness will persuade the weak to turn away from God’s Goodness and Love. Antichrist’s hatred will contaminate all Creation, causing extensive habitual apostasy from Truth and its resulting fatal compromises and sin. Antichrist will allow people to do whatever they want to do – but only as long as they “fall down and worship him” and submit completely to his selfish, egotistic desires. Eventually two Righteous Men will appear in the dark, fallen world, who will fearlessly preach the True Faith and who will boldly and publicly accuse Antichrist of all his destruction and sins against God and humanity. According to Holy Church Tradition, they are the two Holy Old Covenant Prophets of God: St Elijah and St Enoch, who never tasted Death, yet will eventually experience Death for three days, before their Glorious Resurrection. Their murder will be a cause for much (short-lived) celebration by Antichrist and his wretched servants. However, at the Resurrection of these two great Holy Prophets of God, everyone will be plunged into absolute confusion and utter terror, for that will be the end of the world – and the beginning of Eternity! St Peter the great Holy Apostle of Christ taught us that the first world was made out of water — an image of the primordial chaos - and had perished by water — in the Great Flood. Now the world is to perish by Fire – “... for the earth and all the works that are therein shall be burnt up...” (2 PETER 3:5-7, 10) All the elements will ignite. This present world will perish in a single instant - in an instant everything will be utterly changed forever! Moreover, the Sign of the Son of God - the Sign of the Cross - will appear for all Creation to see and the whole fallen world - having willingly submitted to Antichrist rather than Struggle for Spiritual Perfection and a close, intimate Relationship with God - will ‘...weep and gnash its teeth’ Everything will be finished forever: Antichrist will be killed and it will be the end of his reign of hatred and warfare against Christ and everything that is Good - and each one of us will be held accountable – each one of us will have to answer to the True Almighty, Benevolent but Most Awesome God! “The end of the world” signifies not the annihilation of the world, but its Transformation. Everything will be Transformed suddenly, quicker than a blink of an eye: the dead will be Resurrected with new bodies - their own, but Renewed, just like our Resurrected Lord and Saviour Who arose in His own Body that had retained the evidence of His Wounded Wrists with the imprint of the nails, and His Side, which a lance had speared - yet possessing new faculties. And in this sense, it is a New Body, although it is not

clear whether our New Body will be the same as when Adam was created, or whether it will be an entirely different. Our Lord Jesus Christ will once again appear in His Transfigured Glory ... Trumpets will sound, extremely loud and powerful! They will resound in our soul and conscience! Everything will become clear to our human conscience and we will Understand and behold everything we did not even know existed before – far beyond our most wild imaginings! The Holy Prophet of God, St Daniel - speaking of the Last Judgement - related how ‘the Ancient of Days’ - the Divine Judge will sit on His Throne, and before Him would be a Fiery River. (DANIEL 7:9-10). Fire is a purifying element; it burns away sin. Woe to those who have become sinful in their fallen nature - for the Fire will burn them! That Fire will be kindled within us human beings and beholding the Holy Cross of Christ, some will rejoice, but others will fall into deep confusion, terror and despair. Thus will mankind be instantly divided! The very state of our soul will cast us to one side or the other - to right or to left. The more consciously and persistently we strive towards God in our lifetime, the greater will be our Joy when we hear our Lord saying to us: “Come to Me, you who are Blessed!” Conversely, at these Divine Words the indescribable Fire of the most intense horror and torture will engulf those who rejected, ignored, blasphemed or hated God during their lifetime! The Last Judgement of Christ has no witnesses or written protocols! Everything is inscribed on our souls and this record of every word, thought and deed since our birth - these Spiritual “Books of Life,” are opened up and revealed at our Final Judgement, when absolutely everything becomes clear to all of us and we can no longer make excuses or try to hide behind our lies and deceptions! The Faithful will enjoy the Rewards of their Spiritual Struggles and Labours in the Blissful Eternal Kingdom of Divine Love while the others – the enemies of everything that is Good - will suffer Eternal Condemnation and Spiritual Tortures in the “Outer Darkness” – extreme exile from God and all His Goodness. When “...the Books are opened...” it will become clear that the roots of all vices lie in the human soul. And although some like to think that when the body has died, the personal sin is dead too. But No! If there was an inclination to deliberately commit sin and that sin was desired by the soul, and if the person has not repented body and soul that person will face the Last Judgement with the same desire for sin. Consequently, if we do not acknowledge and free ourselves from our sins by means of regular selfexamination, followed by Repentance-Confession - and if we have not freed ourselves of our habitual sins through self-discipline and Spiritual Struggles, we will enter Eternity without being able to satisfy our obsessive desires and will suffer forever in unspeakable anguish and pain. “There will be gnashing of teeth” of powerless malice and the unquenchable inner fire of hatred consuming unrepentant souls forever – i.e. Eternal Hell indeed!
FROM BIRTH TO DEATH WE NEED PERSONAL DISCIPLINE BECAUSE WE HAVE TO LEARN TO ALLOW OUR IMMORTAL SOUL – A TINY PART OF GOD IN US – TO CONTROL AND GUIDE OUR TEMPORARY, WEAK BUT DEMANDING FLESH – THE BODY. HOWEVER, THROUGH SELF-INDULGENCE, WE ALLOW OUR BODY TO DICTATE TO – AND EVEN CONTROL - OUR SOUL, WHICH BECOMES “FLESHY” AND EARTH-BOUND. CONSEQUENTLY WHEN WE REPOSE AT THE END OF OUR ALLOTTED PREPARATORY TIME, THERE IS GREAT SUFFERING AT THE SEPARATION AS THE SOUL CANNOT READILY MOVE ONWARDS AS REQUIRED! THUS WE MUST REGAIN OUR SPIRITUAL ATTRIBUTES AND LIFE IN CHRIST, WHICH IS WHAT GOD INTENDED FOR US WHEN HE CREATED US. THIS IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL – THIS IS IT! WE ONLY HAVE OUR ALLOTTED LIFE-SPAN TO GET THINGS RIGHT AND TO RETURN TO GOD AND ALL HIS GOODNESS – THE ALTERNATIVE IS TOO HORRIFIC TO EVEN CONTEMPLATE – AND EVEN THE DEMONS ARE TERRIFIED! MP

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35th AP – 3rd of Triodion – M e a t f a r e – F i n a l J u d g e m e n t S u n d a y – 1 9 F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 2

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glo ry, Honour and Wo rship to th e Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and fo rever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorio us Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Eve r Virgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

VERY STRICT FAST TODAY

24 F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 2

1st & 2nd Finding of St John the Baptist’s Head
Also the Feast of St Romanos of Uglich – St Cumein, Abbot of Iona Monastery – St Erasmos of Kiev Near Caves Monastery

Apolytikion of the Finding of St John the Baptist’s Head – TONE 4:

Ek gis anatilasa, i tou Prodromou Kefali, aktinas aflisi, The Head of the Forerunner, having risen from the earth,
tis aftharsias pistis ton laseon; anothen sinathriszi, tin plithin ton Angelon, katothen singalite, ton anthropon ta geni, omofonon anapempse, doxan Hristo to Theo.
Kontakion of the Ever Blessed Theotokos

sends out rays of Incorruption, for the Healing of the Faithful; in the Heavens it gathers the Choir of Angels, below are called together all people of all races, to send in a single voice: Glory to Christ our God! Protector of the Christians Unashamable, Mediator to the Creator Immovable, despise not, the pleading voices of those in sin, but hasten O Good One, to the Aid of all of us, who in Faith cry out to Thee: speed up Thine Intercession, and present Thy Supplication, O Theotokos who always protects all those who honour Thee!

Prostasia ton Hristianon akateskhinte, mesitia pros ton O
Piitin ametathete, mi Paridis, amartolon deiseon fonas, alla profthason os agathi, is tin voithian imon, ton pistos kravgazonton Si: Tahinon is presvian, ke spefson is ikesian, i prostatevousa ai, Theotoke, ton Timonton Se.

The Second Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians 4 : 6 - 15
Like St Paul, St John The Baptist Faced Death So That He Might Show Forth The Light Of Christ

Brethren, it is the God Who commanded light to shine out of darkness, Who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ. But we have this Treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the Power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, so that the Life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are already delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the Life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but Life in you. And since we have the same spirit of Faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He Who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that Grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the Glory of God. THIS IS VICTORIOUS, BUT NOT TROUBLE-FREE The “Treasure” is THE LIGHT OF GOD’S GLORY IN CHRIST CHRISTIANITY. and “earthen vessels” refers to OUR HUMANITY – OUR These TRIALS OF LIFE “...show both the Power of God HUMAN NATURE – our mortal, physical bodies that God and, more, disclose His Grace” [ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM] first created from the soil of the earth and which, BOTH THE EVER BLESSED THEOTOKOS AND ST therefore, must be returned to the earth before our JOHN THE BAPTIST WERE THE MOST PERFECT Resurrection into Eternity. LIVING EXAMPLES OF DIVINE GRACE. As this DIVINE LIGHT SHINES IN AND THROUGH US, people Since very early childhood – from about the age of two will see that “the Power” is “of God" and not of or three years – ST JOHN THE BAPTIST AND mankind. FORERUNNER TO CHRIST HAD LIVED IN THE
LIKE THE EVER BLESSED THEOTOKOS, ST JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS UTTERLY OBEDIENT TO GOD AND WAS A MOST SUITABLE LIVING TEMPLE FOR THE HOLY TRINITY. Thus THE DIVINE LIGHT SHONE FORTH FROM HIM UPON THE HEBREW PEOPLE, ENCOURAGING THEM TO HEED HIS DIVINELY INSPIRED WORDS AND TO SEEK REPENTANCE in WILDERNESS, ALL ALONE BUT PROTECTED AND NURTURED BY DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND THE GRACE OF GOD. ALL HIS KNOWLEDGE WAS BESTOWED UPON HIM BY GOD WHO NOT ONLY PROTECTED HIM FROM ANY HARM, BUT ALSO EQUIPPED HIM WITH ALL THE ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS AS THE HOLY FORERUNNER TO CHRIST AND THE LAST BUT GREATEST HOLY PROPHET OF GOD.

preparation for the Coming of the long-awaited Messiah – our Saviour.

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 11:

2 – 15

Our Lord Jesus Christ Explains St John The Baptist’s Mission To Us

At that time, when John had heard in prison about the Works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples who asked Him: “Art Thou the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered them: “Go and tell John the things that you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what did you go out to see? A Prophet? Yes, I say to you: and more than a Prophet! For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My Messenger before Thy Face, who will prepare Thy Way before Thee.’ “Assuredly, I say to you: among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist

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1 s t & 2 n d F i n d i n g O f S t J o h n T h e Ba p t i s t ’ s H e a d

24 February 2012

23 .

until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” According to our Holy Church Fathers, St John the Baptist our Lord Jesus Christ, or other violent men – messianic pretenders trying to bring in the Kingdom asked “Art Thou the Coming One, or do we look by using military force against the Romans. for another?” – a most important question in order
TO GUIDE HIS OWN DISCIPLES TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

It is also possible, according to modern interpretations, that St John thought of the Messiah as Divine Judge only and was perplexed by His Infinite Mercy.
ST ISAIAH HAD PREDICTED THAT AT THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH THE BLIND WOULD SEE, THE LAME WOULD WALK, LEPERS WOULD BE CLEANSED AND THE DEAF WOULD HEAR. OUR LORD JESUS FULFILLED THE PROPHECIES OF ST ISAIAH, BEARING THE FRUIT THAT ONLY THE MESSIAH CAN PRODUCE! IN TERMS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW, ST JOHN THE BAPTIST IS THE GREATEST PROPHET, but THE NEW COVENANT INAUGURATED BY CHRIST IS OF SUCH INCOMPARABLE VALUE THAT EVERYONE WHO SHARES IN IT IS, AS IT WERE, GREATER THAN ST JOHN, because BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH UNDER THE NEW COVENANT WE BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD AND PARTAKERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

AN ANCIENT PATRISTIC INTERPRETATION IS THAT THE KINGDOM ITSELF BREAKS INTO THIS WORLD “VIOLENTLY.” FOR INSTANCE, THROUGH POWERFUL MIRACLES, ALERT AND DARING PEOPLE TAKE HOLD OF IT AGGRESSIVELY.

Whoever is a hearer and lover of the Word of God takes the Kingdom “by force,” EXERTING ALL EARNESTNESS AND DESIRE TO ENTER THE REALITY OF THE KINGDOM. For this Holy Martyrs shed their blood, making their Confession of Faith, being “made a spectacle to the world, both to Angels and to men.” [1 CORINTHIANS4:9]
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN BELONGS NOT TO THE SLEEPING OR THE LAZY, BUT INSTEAD TO “... the violent (WHO) take it )

by force.”
THE IDENTIFICATION BETWEEN ST JOHN THE BAPTIST AND ST ELIJAH IS QUITE EXPLICIT.

It is not St John who ascribes to himself the role of St Elijah the Prophet, but OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WHO
ASSIGNS HIM THIS PLACE IN THE HISTORY OF SALVATION. ST JOHN THE BAPTIST FULFILLED THE MISSION OF ST ELIJAH THE PROPHET AND HIS DESTINY WAS SIMILAR TO ST ELIJAH’S. YET ST JOHN IS HONOURED OVER ST ELIJAH, BECAUSE OUR LORD JESUS IN COMPARING THE PROPHETS DECLARED:

St John is honoured because ® He is Righteous ® He prepared the Way of the first Coming of our Lord and Saviour ® He Baptised Christ. “Suffers violence” may mean that the Heavenly Kingdom is under attack by opponents of St John the Baptist and There is among certain people another distorted misunderstanding of the Holy Mystery of Confession. This is the erroneous belief that Confession is little more than making a list of wrong-doings without any consideration for the importance of Sincere Repentance. This approach to Holy Confession is particularly strong in churches where Confessions are carried out en-masse during the course of the Divine Liturgy because Holy Communion for the laity is regarded (very wrongly) as impossible without it! Repentance is, in fact, the necessary pre-condition for Confession, and so the Holy Mystery of Confession should be preceded by deep reflection – an inner Spiritual Examination - and genuine contrition. Heartfelt Sacramental Confession is the natural response to sincere Repentance, and is thus the Sacred Fruit and Seal of that Repentance. Another erroneous idea is that Holy Confession is meaningless if we habitually repeat the same sins, and that Repentance is of no value unless the sins that we regret having committed are completely stopped – never repeated again! This is - to put it mildly - a very cold and rational approach to Repentance and Confession. We would do well to remember the profound words of St David the Royal Psalmist who wrote in his Psalm 50, (which is the wonderful Psalm of Repentance that we recite twice on Sunday morning and as part of our daily Rule of Prayer): “A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; a broken and humbled heart God will not despise.” We should also constantly keep in mind our Lord’s Parable concerning the humble, contrite Tax Collector and the arrogant, self-righteous Pharisee. Christ clearly explained to us that while the proud Pharisee “... prayed thus to himself...” only the Tax Collector was Justified through his sincere RepentanceConfession and Humility before God and his fellow sinners. In his deep contrition over his sins, the despised Tax Collector had not even dared to lift his eyes to Heaven, but in his deep regret for his sins, he smote his breast and pleaded with God: ‘Have mercy on me, a sinner!’. (LUKE 18:10-14) For sure, one of the significant and essential Purposes of Confession is our Spiritual Development, and the sincere expression of contrition for our sins is even more important.

“There has not risen one greater than John.”

Confession: The Sacrament of Repentance and Reconciliation – Part 2
It is far more beneficial for those who continuously go for Holy Confession in tears while they confess the same grievous sins again and again rather than those who are self-satisfied and confident (arrogant!) in the belief that they only have ‘little sins” to confess! Sometimes people go to Confession purely to discuss their Spiritual Development, but again, this misses the essential Purpose of Holy Confession as the Holy Mystery of Repentance-Confession. Perhaps they have a need to do so because they feel it is the only way to find time to talk seriously and at length with the Priest. While the discussion of our personal Spiritual Life is not ‘unsuitable’ or ‘wrong’ for Confession, it is far better (unless there is something to Confess) to set time aside apart from Confession to discuss such matters. Perhaps this need to use the Holy Mystery of Confession as a pretext for a personal discussion with the Priest is a result of the failure of our Parish Priests to rise to the challenge of acting as Spiritual Fathers to their Flock. Priests are sometimes ever-so-busy with things which are, quite frankly, of secondary importance. The Liturgical, Sacramental and Spiritual Life should always be the first priority of both Clergy and laity alike - whether married or unmarried. What we need, then, is a real rediscovery of the Spiritual Character and Content of Church Life - a deep Understanding in heart, soul and mind of our Calling to come into Union with God. Like the Prodigal Son, we need to recognise our dreadful and wilful alienation from God - our sinfulness, our distance from our True Home and Calling. And we need to understand that our Spiritual Home is our Holy, Orthodox Church, and that we always need to return Home - we always need to be Reconciled with God and with the Sacred Body of Believers that is Christ’s Holy, Eternal Church. Correct and regular Holy Confession is therefore vital for us to enable us to continuously rediscover our identity as Orthodox Christians.
ARCHIMANDRITE VASSILIOS PAPAVASSILIOU THE ARCHDIOCESE OF THYATEIRA AND GREAT BRITAIN

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1st & 2nd Finding Of St John The Baptist’s Head

24 February 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honou r and Worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glori ous Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Vi rgin, together with all the Saints. And let us comm it ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

25 F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 2
Saturday of the Holy Ascetics
Also the Feast of St Tarasios of Constantinople – St Reginos of Skopelos – St Alexander of Thrace – St Markellos of Apamea – St Walburga of Heidenheim

Festal Apolytikion – Holy Ascetics

O Theos ton Pateron imon, O pion
ai meth imon kata tin Sin epiikian, mi apostisis to Eleos Sou af imon, alla tes afton ikesies, en Irini kivernison tin Zoin imon.
Kontakion of the Ever Blessed Theotokos

O God of our Fathers, since Thou
always deal with us in accordance with Thy Gentleness, do not withdraw Thy Mercy from us, but at their Fervent Entreaties, pilot our Life in Peace.

Prostasia ton Hristianon akateskhinte, mesitia pros ton O
Piitin ametathete, mi Paridis, amartolon deiseon fonas, alla profthason os agathi, is tin voithian imon, ton pistos kravgazonton Si: Tahinon is presvian, ke spefson is ikesian, i prostatevousa ai, Theotoke, ton Timonton Se.

Protector of the Christians Unashamable, Mediator to the Creator Immovable, despise not, the pleading voices of those in sin, but hasten O Good One, to the Aid of all of us, who in Faith cry out to Thee: speed up Thine Intercession, and present Thy Supplication, O Theotokos who always protects all those who honour Thee!

St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians 5 : 22 – 6 : 2
Living in Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour

Brethren, the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. Against such there is no Law, and those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another or envying each other. Brethren: if anyone is overtaken by any trespass, you who are Spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of Gentlenss – considering yourself, let you also be tempted. Bear each other’s Burdens, and so fulfil the Law of Christ. THE DIVINE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – THE HOLY VIRTUES – OURSELVES – to examine our hearts and root out GRANT US THE DIVINE FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: habitual sins, healing and cleansing ourselves through “...Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Kindness, sincere Repentance-Confession, followed by Holy Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and SelfCommunion and to DAILY CONTEMPLATE THE control...” which is EVERYTHING NECESSARY FOR OUR SPEEDILY APPROACHING ETERNITY AND ALL IT WILL MEAN TO EACH OF US. LIFE IN CHRIST – that enables us to regain our Divine We only have a very short lifespan to correct our flaws and Likeness and to perfect our Divine Image, slowly to sincerely Repent our transgressions against God making us worthy citizens for God’s Eternal Kingdom and against each other! of Love, Peace and Joy. THERE ARE THREE CATEGORIES OF SIN THAT WE REGULARLY These wonderful Divine Fruits of the Holy Spirit carry us COMMIT AND WHICH WE NEED TO CORRECT: SINS AGAINST through this existence, but THE ONE THAT WILL ALMIGHTY GOD, SINS AGAINST EACH OTHER, AND SINS CONTINUE FOR ALL ETERNITY IS LOVE – AGAPE – that AGAINST OURSELVES. Extraordinary Pure, Perfect and Divinely Unconditional We cannot make any Spiritual Progress at all without Love that God instils in our immortal soul and which God Who helps us by the Will of God the Father, grants us His Great Joy and Peace. through God the Son and enabled by God the Nothing in the fallen world can prevent these Good Holy Spirit. Virtues and their consequent effects – especially Thus it is that St Paul mentioned “living” and “walking” in when we have truly crucified the cravings and the Holy Spirit : AS BAPTISED ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS WE demands of our flesh – the selfish desires of our LIVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT AND AS STRUGGLING FAITHFUL DISCIPLES OF CHRIST OUR EVERY WORD, THOUGHT AND bodies that drag us into wickedness and immorality – DEED SHOULD BE WORTHY, HONEST, SINCERE, TRUTHFUL and which pull us away from God and all His AND PURE – SO THAT WE WALK (FUNCTION) IN THE HOLY Goodness. SPIRIT. The Holy Ascetics are good examples of self-denial and St Paul warns us against CONCEIT, WHICH IS CAUSED BY Spiritual Discipline, and although we cannot live SELFISHNESS, SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, PRIDE, ARROGANCE – exactly like them unless we are extraordinary human ALL MOTIVATED BY A BLOATED EGO AND WHICH CAUSES US TO PROVOKE EACH OTHER INTO TEMPTATIONS AND SINS. beings, we can live small Ascetic Lives during the As struggling Disciples of Christ and AS WE GAIN MORE prescribed periods of Fasting throughout the SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE, WE ARE HONOUR-BOUND TO Liturgical Year, which occur in such a manner as GENTLY AND COMPASSIONATELY HELP AND GUIDE OUR to make it easier for us to achieve. FELLOW BRETHREN IN CHRIST – ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO
EVERY FAST IS AN REMINDER AND AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FAR MORE THAN SIMPLY RESISTING TEMPTING FOOD AND DRINK. FASTING IS A TIME OF A MORE DETERMINED SELF-DENIAL AND SELF-CONTROL BUT ALSO A TIME TO LOOK WITHIN STUMBLE AND FALL ALONG THE WAY. EVERYTHING WE DO IN THIS TEMPORARY LIFE SHOULD BE DONE WITH AGAPE – WITH LOVE – WHICH IS THE LAW OF CHRIST.

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Saturday of the Holy Ascetics

25 February 2012

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The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 6 : 1 – 13
Christ Teaches Us How to Give Alms (Charity) and How to Pray

At that time, our Lord Jesus Christ said: “... take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before others – to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no Reward from your Father in Heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you like the hypocrites do in the Synagogues and in the streets so that they may have ‘glory’ from mankind. Truly, I say to you: they have their reward! And when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your charitable deed may be in secret – and your Father Who sees all secrets will Himself Reward you openly. And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the Synagogues and on the corners of streets, so that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you: they have their reward. And you – when you pray – go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to our Father Who is in the Secret Place – and your Father Who sees in secret will Reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathens do, for they think that they will be heard due to their many words. So, do not be like them, for your Father knows the things that you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: ‘Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done – on earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily Bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.’” TRUE PRAYER IS In this chapter, OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST PRESENTS US WITH 1. HUMBLE – “... go into your room...” – private and THREE MOST BASIC ASPECTS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE: 1. CHARITABLE GIVING unseen by others 2. PRAYER PERSONAL – “... pray to our Father Who is in the Secret 3. FASTING Place...” of our hearts and souls These three important Spiritual Disciplines or Virtues SINCERE – “... do not use vain repetitions...” mindless, RELATE DIRECTLY TO GOD’S DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS – they empty words are not Sacred Communion with God. are small steps that lead us closer to regaining our Every word should be uttered with heartfelt Divine Likeness, which our Loving God desires for all sincerity and meaning. mankind. The original meaning of “hypocrite” was “actor.” Hypocrites are therefore play-actors who pretend to act with Piety but only to show off to others because they are motivated by arrogance, pride and selfishness – they are drive by the demands of their inflated, selfrighteous ego which always seeks the flattery and empty praises of others and the need to please people instead of pleasing God.
IN ORDER TO PLEASE THE LORD OUR GOD, WE NEED TO POSSESS ENOUGH HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE SO IF WE ARE TOTALLY LACKING THESE MOST VITAL VIRTUES, WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO MAKE ANY SPIRITUAL PROGRESS! WHEN WE MAKE THE SIGN OF THE CROSS, WE MAKE A DECLARATION OF FAITH AND WORSHIP: “I worship Thee,

O Lord, with all my mind, with all my heart, with all my strength and with all my soul!”
THIS IS IN OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR WHO TAUGHT US TO PRAY CORRECTLY AND CONSCIOUSLY. THE FATHER-SON RELATIONSHIP WITHIN THE HOLY TRINITY REVEALS OUR TRUE POTENTIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ALMIGHTY GOD.

Hypocrites – the most despised by our Saviour – wear masks of ‘compassion’ while inwardly they are utterly heartless and uncaring, except for themselves. Their only ‘reward’ is the brief moments of applause and flattery of others who are no better themselves and who enable such toxic hypocrisy to continue. Having received what they thought they desired in this short lifespan, HYPOCRITES WILL SUFFER ETERNAL
CONDEMNATION, UNLESS THEY WAKE UP TO THEIR SPIRITUAL AILMENTS AND CORRECT THEM IMMEDIATELY WITH HUMILITY, OBEDIENCE, REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION.

Christ, the Eternal and Divine Son of God, grants us, through Him, the great honour and privilege of addressing God the Father as “Our Father in Heaven...” by the Grace of our Adoption at Holy Baptism. (GALATIANS 4:4-7) As Adopted Children – sons and daughters - of God WE
ARE THUS CALLED TO LOVE, TRUST AND SERVE GOD EXACTLY AS CHRIST DOES TO GOD THE FATHER.

God is not automatically “our Heavenly Father” only because He Created us. HE IS OUR HEAVENLY FATHER TO
THOSE OF US WHO HAVE A CLOSE, INTIMATE, PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM – THOSE OF US WHO ARE BLESSED WITH A DIVINE COMMUNION THROUGH OUR OWN SPIRITUAL STRUGGLES, WHICH BEGIN AT OUR HOLY BAPTISM BY THE GRACE OF DIVINE ADOPTION. (JOHN 1:13 & ROMANS 8: 14 -16)

God is certainly unimpressed with what any mere mortal beings may think of one another. GOD DOES, HOWEVER,
REWARD ALL GOOD DEEDS WHEN THEY ARE MOTIVATED BY PURE HEARTS AND SOULS.

“Daily” is a misleading interpretation of the Greek “Epiousios,” meaning “above the essence,” or “Supersubstantial.” “Daily Bread” indicates not merely Bread for this day – for earthly nourishment – but ALSO THE HEAVENLY BREAD OF
ETERNITY AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD – FOR THE SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT OF OUR IMMORTAL SOUL. THIS LIVING, SUPERSUBSTANTIAL BREAD IS CHRIST HIMSELF,

Christ has clearly told us that whatever we do to others – good or bad – will be returned to us “a hundred-fold” – a hundred times more! So this should motivate and encourage us to STRIVE TO
ONLY THINK, SAY AND DO GOOD THINGS THAT ARE WORTHY IN THE SIGHT OF ALMIGHTY GOD! Hypocrites miss the spirit and meaning of TRUE PRAYER, WHICH IS THE MOST INTIMATE, PERSONAL COMMUNION WITH GOD THAT LEADS US TO THE VISION OF HIS GLORY. (1
CORINTHIANS 2:9)

so in our Lord’s Prayer we are not asking simply for material bread for our physical health, but especially for THE ETERNAL, SPIRITUAL BREAD OF ETERNAL LIFE. (JOHN
6:27-58)

Hypocrisy blocks out that Divine Communion and Vision and “vain repetitions” cannot establish them either. Many Psalm, Prayers and Hymns of our Holy Church have been repeated for countless generations in the worship of God “in Spirit and Truth.” (JOHN 4:23) But these are heartfelt, fervent Prayers of Supplication, Thanksgiving and Praise. True Prayer is not telling God what He already knows and then telling Him what to do about it, nor is it pretending to be Pious in the sight of others.

THE REQUEST TO BE FORGIVEN IS PLURAL – DIRECTING US TO PRAY ALWAYS FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF OTHERS AS WELL. The term “Debts” refers to OUR INNUMERABLE SPIRITUAL DEBTS THAT WE ALONE CAN NEVER REPAY. GOD NEVER TEMPTS ANYONE INTO COMMITTING SIN. (JAMES 1:13)

However, we are ceaselessly bombarded by the wicked temptations of Satan and his demons, which are perpetually trying to make us surrender to the selfish passions of the flesh so ONLY BY THE GRACE AND
STRENGTH OF GOD ARE WE ABLE TO RESIST AND TRIUMPH OVER EVIL.

No one lives without encountering temptations, so we beseech God not to permit any great tests that are beyond our capacity to resist but which, by His Divine Grace, we will overcome.

26.

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Saturday of the H oly Ascetics

25 February 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honour and Worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Sa ints. And let us commit ourselves a nd one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

36TH Sunday After Pentecost

Tone 4

26 February 2012

4th Sunday of Triodion – Cheesefare/Forgiveness Sunday
Also the Feast of St Porphyrios of Gaza – St Sabastianos of Poshekhonye – St Sebastianos & St Christodoulos, companions of the Holy Martyr St Photina – Synaxis of the Venerable Holy Fathers of the Kiev Caves Lavra – St John Kalphes the Apprentice, New Martyr of Constantinople

R e s u r r e c t i o n A p o l y t i k i o n - TONE 4

To

the Angels the Glad Tidings of the Resurrection, and had cast away the Condemnation of their Forefather, they spoke exultingly to the Apostles: Death is no more: Christ-God is Risen, granting to the world Great Mercy! T r i o d i o n K o n t a k i o n – C h e e s e f a r e / F o r g i v e n e s s S u n d a y - TONE (6) PLAGAL 2

fedron tis Anastaseos Kirigma ek tou Angelou Mathouse e tou Kyriou Mathitrie ke tin Progonikin apofasin aporipsase, tis Apostolis kafhomene elegon: Eskilefte O Thanatos, igerthi Hristos O Theos, doroumenos to kosmo to Mega Eleos!.

When the Women Disciples of the Lord had learnt from

Tis Sofias Odige, Froniseos Horige, ton Afronon pedefta, O
ke ton ptohon iperaspista, stirixon sinetison tin kardian mou Despota. Si didou mi logon, o tou Patros Logos. Idou gar ta hili mou, ou mi koliso en to krazin Si. Eleimon, eleison me ton parapesonta.

Wisdom’s Guiding Star, of Prudence Provider, Instructor of the foolish ones, and the Defender of the poor: Support and grant Understanding, O Master, to my heart. Grant me words, O Thou Who are the Father’s Word; for behold I shall not hold back from crying out to Thee: O Compassionate One, have Mercy on me having gone astray!

Prokeimenon

Sing

Praises to our God!

Sing Praises to our King!

Clap

your hands, all you Nations!
Today is the Day!

The Epistle of St Paul to the Romans 13 : 11 – 14 : 4
Brethren: you know what Hour it is - that now is the exact time to awaken out of sleep - for now our Salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the Day is at hand! Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the Armour of Light. Let us walk properly, as in the Day – not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy - but put on our Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh – to fulfil its lusts. Receive those who are weak in the Faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things, for one believes he may eat all things, yet he who is weak, eats only vegetables. And let those who eat not despise those who do not eat, and let those who do not eat, not judge those who do eat; for God has received them. Who are you to judge Another’s servant? Before his own Master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. WE ONLY HAVE A VERY SHORT LIFESPAN IN WHICH TO PREPARE We must clearly understand that EVERY WORD, THOUGHT AND
AND DEVELOP OUR IMMORTAL SOULS FOR ETERNITY.

Therefore, St Paul reminds us that we cannot waste another minute of such precious time because THE
TIME OF OUR REPENTANCE AND SALVATION IS NOW!

It is time to wake up from our sin-induced stupor – to arise from our slovenly bed of ignorance, negligence and Spiritual Death – and immediately set off on our Life’s Journey towards Eternal Life and God’s Heavenly Kingdom.
WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO DO NOW – IN THIS MOMENT OF OUR EXISTENCE AND IN EVERY OTHER MOMENT OF EVERY DAY OF THE REST OF OUR LIFE – WILL AFFECT OUR ETERNITY – our

DEED HAS A CONSEQUENCE – NOT MERELY NOW BUT CERTAINLY LATER. However, WITH THE GUIDANCE AND GRACE OF GOD WE CAN CONSTANTLY IMPROVE OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM AND WITH OUR FELLOW STRUGGLERS who are on the exact

same Journey of Life – even though many do not grasp the reality and purpose of our existence.
WE HAVE COME FROM GOD – BEING CREATED BY HIM IN HIS DIVINE IMAGE AND LIKENESS – AND WE HAVE A NATURAL INCLINATION TO RETURN TO GOD BY REGAINING OUR LOST LIKENESS TO HIM, which makes us worthy citizens and

co-Heirs of His Eternal Kingdom.
THE ONLY WAY WE CAN CAST OFF OUR “WORKS OF DARKNESS” – THE FILTH AND DESTRUCTION OF SIN – IS TO “put on the Armour of Light” – i.e. through our Holy Baptism WE PUT ON CHRIST WHO IS DIVINE, UNCREATED LIGHT. WE CONTINUOUSLY CLEANSE AND SANCTIFY OURSELVES WITH THE HOLY MYSTERIES OF HIS HOLY CHURCH – and in this

own Eternal Life with God or Eternal Death in exile – a total absence of God and all His Goodness!
AS LONG AS WE ARE STILL IN THIS EXISTENCE, WE CAN CHANGE OUR COURSE BY SINCERE REPENTANCE-CONFESSION AND A CONCERTED, DETERMINATION TO DO THE BEST WE CAN TO IMITATE AND TO FOLLOW CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR in Whom

we Live since our Holy Baptism.
GOD GRANTS US INNUMERABLE REPENTANCE and a complete OPPORTUNITIES FOR

manner we are able to slowly but surely take one tiny step at a time, closer to our Ultimate Destination.
WE CANNOT PROCEED WITHOUT GOD AND OUR FELLOW SINNERS

change of heart and attitude that brings us closer to Him and enriches our lives - in this world and the next - beyond our simple understanding or perception.

who are striving just as eagerly and determinedly as ourselves. So whenever we weaken, or stumble and fall, WITH THE
LOVING SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT OF ALL OUR FAITHFUL BRETHREN AND DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, AND

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GREAT LENT BEGINS TOMORROW

ESPECIALLY BY THE GRACE OF OUR MOST LOVING GOD, WE ARE ABLE TO RISE UP AGAIN, AND SET OFF ONCE MORE,

with joyful and enthusiastic hearts and souls. With the Love and Strength granted to us by God, WE NEED
NOT WORRY FOR AN INSTANT ABOUT ANY OF OUR PHYSICAL NEEDS. We are CONFIDENT IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE and are able to CONCENTRATE OUR EFFORTS ON OUR SPIRITUAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT. AND THE CLOSER WE GET TO GOD, THE MORE SPIRITUAL STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE WE WILL BE GRANTED.

With serenity of soul and the unconditional Divine Love of God in our hearts, we help each other in every way necessary, never judging anyone else except ourselves.

As St Paul reminds us: God is our only Judge and we are all His Faithful servants! Anyone who would dare to point an accusatory finger at a fellow sinner, should immediately Repent for we are told by Christ: “Judge not lest you be Judged!” which means that whatever we do to others will come back to us a hundred times more! Consequently, during the next weeks of Great Lent, we should make every effort possible to think, to say and to do only those things that can Spiritually Benefit us and each other – so that our words, thoughts and deeds become great Blessings rather than dreadful curses for us!!

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 6 : 14 – 21
Christ our Lord & Saviour Teaches Us About Forgiveness & Fasting

At that time our Lord Jesus Christ said: “... if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses! “Furthermore, when you Fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces so that they may appear to others to be Fasting. Truly, I say to you: they have their reward! But you: when you Fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to others to be Fasting, except to your Father Who is in the Secret Place; and your Father Who sees in secret will Reward you openly. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves Treasure in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!” 8 OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST INSISTS ON MUTUAL FORGIVENESS i.e. to maintain a good, healthy and clean personal BETWEEN US HUMAN BEINGS AS A PRECONDITION OF state throughout the Fast and the rest of the year, GOD’S DIVINE FORGIVENESS AND GREAT MERCY. without any discernible difference that others might THOSE WHO DO NOT FORGIVE OTHERS WILL NOT BE notice. FORGIVEN BY GOD EITHER! (There is no “Ash Wednesday” in Orthodox Christianity!) This is an absolutely clear Teaching of Christ Who will be FASTING IS FOR OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT our Final and Only Judge before Whom all Creation AND ESPECIALLY FOR THE GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP will stand! So we will not be able to plead ignorance! OF GOD – AND NOT TO BE SEEN BY THOSE AROUND US. This Divine Teaching is vital to our Eternity and is repeated Fasting is also not merely the abstinence from certain often, such as in Christ’s Parable of the Unforgiving foods but consists mainly of A STRICT SELF-DENIAL AND Servant, SELF-DISCIPLINE IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE so as to escape IF WE HOPE FOR DIVINE FORGIVENESS AND MERCY FROM the physical control and damage caused by our GOD, WE MUST MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO FORGIVE AND passions and self-indulgence. BE MERCIFUL TO OUR FELLOW SINNERS! We have TO STRENGTHEN OUR IMMORTAL SOULS so that we Whatever we desire to be granted by God for ourselves, we are able TO CORRECTLY CONTROL OUR PHYSICAL AND must grant to one another and when we find ourselves MENTAL DESIRES AND DEMANDS and even dominate and in dire straits, WE MUST SEARCH WITHIN OUR OWN conquer the weaknesses of our bodies. HEARTS, MINDS AND SOULS TO FIND AND ROOT OUT WHAT
IS PREVENTING US FROM MAKING PROPER SPIRITUAL PROGRESS!

Most tragedies in life are caused by people who are selfish and arrogant – who are unforgiving and merciless towards others. Once again, the Sacred Lesson is “Do unto others what you would like done to you ..!!”
PUTTING ON A SAD FACE OR APPEARANCE TO SHOW OFF OR TO BRAG ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU ARE “SACRIFICING” WHILE FASTING, ONLY BRINGS YOU SHAME AND DISCREDIT FOR IT EXPOSES YOUR FAST AS A MERE EMPTY GESTURE THAT WILL NOT BENEFIT YOU IN THE SLIGHTEST DEGREE! OUR LORD JESUS REJECTED AND DESPISED NOTHING ELSE BUT HYPOCRITES!

WE ONLY HAVE THIS LIFE-SPAN IN WHICH TO STRENGTHEN AND DEVELOP OUR IMMORTAL SOUL, WHICH CANNOT DO SO ONCE IT IS SEPARATED FROM OUR BODY.

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On the eve of Great Lent we sing: “Let us abstain from passions as we abstain from food!” St John Chrysostom admonished us: “What good is it if we abstain from eating birds and fish but bite and devour our Brethren?”

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DURING EVERY FASTING PERIOD, WE MUST MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO BE THE MOST PERFECT DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, SO THAT EVENTUALLY WE GROW INTO SUCH GOOD HABITS THAT IT BECOMES NATURAL TO US - and

Those who Fast correctly – by not only fulfilling the selfdenial of the flesh but also of the spirit – experience the Divine Compassion of God which dispels any difficulty or physical discomfort. In other words: IF WE FAST PROPERLY IN BOTH A SPIRITUAL
AND PHYSICAL MANNER – WITH ALL THE RIGHT MOTIVATION AND PURPOSE - WE WILL BE GREATLY BLESSED WITH THE LOVING PRESENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

with less effort or struggle. By attaching ourselves to material but temporary treasures of this world, we cut ourselves off from the everlasting True and Most Priceless Treasures of Heaven. We become slaves to earthly things rather than being Truly Free in Christ Jesus.

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During the Fasts of our Holy Church, the Hymns call all Faithful Christians to wash and to anoint themselves – Clean Monday (Καθαρά ∆ευτέρα – Kathara Deftera), is the first day of Great Lent – the beginning of the 7th week before Holy Pascha. "Clean Monday" refers to leaving behind our sinful attitudes and denying ourselves the culinary pleasures of all non-fasting food. Liturgically, Clean Monday—and thus Great Lent itself— begins on the preceding (Sunday) night, at a special Service called Forgiveness Vespers, which culminates with the Ceremony of Mutual

THE FOCAL POINT OF GENUINE DISCIPLESHIP CONCERNS DISENTANGLING OURSELVES FROM THE CHAINS AND SHACKLES OF INSIGNIFICANT, FLEETING EARTHLY POSSESSIONS AND SOCIAL STATUS AND ATTACHING OURSELVES INSTEAD TO OUR LOVING AND MOST BENEVOLENT LORD GOD WHO IS OUR TRUE ETERNAL TREASURE!

Clean Monday – the Beginning of Great & Holy Lent

Forgiveness, at which all present will bow down before one another and ask forgiveness. In this way, the Faithful begin Lent with a clean conscience, with forgiveness, and with renewed Christian Love. The entire first week of Great Lent is often referred to as "Clean Week," and it is customary to go to Confession with one’s Spiritual Father. During this week, it is also customary to thoroughly clean one’s house.

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The theme of Clean Monday is set by the Old Testament reading appointed for the Sixth Hour on this first day of Great Lent: ISAIAH 1 : 1 – 20 states in part: “Wash yourselves and you shall be clean; put away the wicked ways from your souls before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well. Seek Judgment, relieve the oppressed, consider the fatherless, and plead for the widow. Come then, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow; and though they be red like crimson, I will make them white as wool...” ± LAGANA BREAD Clean Monday is a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus, where it is celebrated with outdoor excursions, the consumption of fresh shellfish and other fasting food, a special kind of azyme bread that is baked only on Clean Monday, called Lagana Bread – and flying kites.

Throughout Great Lent - although meat, chicken, and fish as well as all dairy products and anything that is derived from ‘blood animals’ is forbidden in a spirit of self-denial, on major Feast Days such as 25 March fish is permitted. The consumption of certain seafood such as prawns, crayfish, mussels, oysters, calamari, etc is permitted, as are olives – but not olive oil – and tarama but not fish. The first day of Lent is a very strict Fast day when we should try to eat only unprepared, unprocessed fruit and vegetables – just as God provides for us, so that we may contemplate and appreciate His Divine Providence in all things. Instead of any produced and prepared beverages – tea, coffee, cooldrinks, juices - we should only drink water throughout this day and realise how wonderful and amazing water truly is because without it, we could not exist. May Clean Monday be a good day of profound contemplation and thanksgiving for our abundant Blessings that all too often we take so much for granted and may we all proceed properly and successfully towards a most Joyous Holy Pascha.

Sunday of Forgiveness – Cheesefare Sunday & the Beginning of Great Lent The Rite of Forgiveness
Dear Brethren in Christ, what our Holy Orthodox Church asks us to do right now is no longer merely a thought or feeling, but an action – an actual deed. Certain good thoughts and emotions have been slowly cultivated in us over the past few weeks and in fact this is how it always happens: thoughts give birth to emotions or ‘feelings,’ which in turn, bring forth action – and these actions at this time of our Liturgical Year are of very special importance and significance. God Himself has taught us that “... if you do not forgive others, neither will your (Heavenly) Father, forgive you...!” This means that all our Spiritual Efforts such as Fasting, attending Holy Services and Prostrations in worship before Almighty God – in fact all our Sacred Devotions to God – will be in vain! That is how important this first step into Great Lent is. However, it is certainly not easy for us to forgive others or even ourselves for our transgressions that have left us all too often hurt, frustrated and even angry. To forgive with our words only – just for the sake of ‘decency’ or for the sake of ‘formality,’ might not seem to be so difficult, but what good is that? Nevertheless, to take this first, hesitant little step – to recognise and especially to admit to ourselves – and others – that we are worse than our fellow sinners – to openly admit that we are truly guilty of transgressions - is extremely difficult.
THE COURAGE AND BOLDNESS TO CONFESS OUR SINS AND TO BESEECH FORGIVENESS FOR THEM FROM GOD AND FROM ONE ANOTHER IS ONLY POSSIBLE BY DIVINE GRACE THAT IS GRANTED AFTER OUR CEASELESS, HEARTFELT PRAYERS – AND HAVING PROPERLY EXAMINED OURSELVES SO AS TO SEEK OUT, TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND THEN TO RIP OUT FOREVER THE NOXIOUS WEEDS OF EVIL LURKING IN THE DEPTHS OF OUR HEART, WHICH IS TRUE REPENTANCECONFESSION. FORGIVENESS IS THE MOST ROBUST SPIRITUAL WEAPON USED IN OUR UNENDING BATTLE AGAINST THE EVIL ONE BECAUSE IT IS USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH TWO OTHER POWERFUL VIRTUES – HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE TO GOD! FORGIVENESS NOT ONLY LIBERATES THE TRANSGRESSOR BUT ALSO THE VICTIM BECAUSE IT SETS THEM BOTH FREE FROM THE HEAVY SHACKLES OF DEADLY VICE SUCH AS ANGER, FRUSTRATION, HURT, VENGEANCE – AND WORST OF ALL – DESTRUCTIVE HATRED! HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE IS VITAL FOR FORGIVENESS BECAUSE OUR BLOATED EGOS, SELF-JUSTIFICATION AND SELFISHNESS PREVENTS US FROM MAKING ANY SPIRITUAL PROGRESS AT ALL. THESE GRIEVOUS VICES HARDEN HEARTS AND MAKE US UNYIELDINGLY STUBBORN AND UNREPENTANT. BY FEEDING THESE VICES WITH CONTINUOUS WICKED, DECEPTIVE SELFJUSTIFICATION, HATRED AND ANGER WILL CONSUME OUR HEARTS AND SOULS, AND WE WILL SURRENDER TO THE ENEMY AT THE COST OF EVERYTHING GOOD.

And to be able to consider the sins of others as far less than our own - or even nothing at all – or to be able to see that specific problems were in fact provoked by our own words, thoughts and deeds - is the most challenging thing to do. The Lives of Christian Holy Saints and Martyrs were replete with these exact same problems. Our greatest Spiritual Fathers and Mothers, and Holy Confessors, who spent their entire lifetime in the strictest of Ascetic Struggles were confronted ceaselessly by these deadly temptations of Satan and his demonic gang.
FORGIVENESS OF ANY TYPE OF TRESPASS OR DEBT IS THE MOST POWERFUL AND MOST LIBERATING SPIRITUAL VIRTUE.

God created us perfectly – with pure, good hearts and souls – just observe very young children and babies – but unfortunately, as we mature, we take on habitual sins that need to be identified, exposed and repented – completely Renewed. Thus it is that we all need the Special Help of God – His Divine Teachings and Commandments – that guide us along the Path of Righteousness – so that we can become, once again, intellectual beings who are created in Divine Image AND LIKENESS. We must learn to sincerely forgive – to genuinely forgive with our entire being – to draw ourselves out of our harmful self-love and self-justification – our egocentric, selfish, self-indulgent but very dangerous habits that cause so much ill-will, violence and intense unhappiness in this poor, darkened, fallen world. Forgiveness of one another is required of everyone by God because forgiveness is an essential part of Divine Love – Agape – which we absolutely need all the time to nurture and develop our immortal souls – by putting into practice everything God has taught us so as to ensure our Spiritual Progress and mutual Love. Our Heavenly Father awaits us in loving Expectation to return to Him like the repentant Prodigal Son yet unless we make every effort possible – beginning with sincere Forgiveness of each other – we cannot properly begin our Great Lent – our Holy Pilgrimage towards the Glorious Joy of True and Holy Pascha! And now, as the first of sinners, I beseech you all: Please forgive me my trespasses and transgressions, as I joyfully forgive you yours!
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: ‘ONE THING NEEDFUL’ – ARCHBISHOP ANDREW RYMARENKO – www.holytrinitymission.org

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GREAT LENT BEGINS TOMORROW

On the Light of the World
WHAT MAKES US BEAUTIFUL? IT IS AN INNER STRENGTH THAT MOST OFTEN TAKES THE FORM OF LIGHT.

vices - as well as the rest of us - will have to answer to God FOR WASTING OUR UNIQUE GODGRANTED LIFESPAN.

When Jesus Christ spoke in Palestine about Authentic Life – the Kingdom of God – that had come into the world in His Person – when He Healed every sickness and infirmity – reports of Him were heard far and wide, throughout the world: “And His fame went throughout Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were taken with diverse diseases and torments, and those who were possessed with devils, and those who were insane, and those who had the palsy – and He Healed them all.” (MATTHEW 4: 24
– 25)

And how will they answer the demons’ accusations? They will have nothing truly good with which to defend themselves and they will not know how to respond to the deafening screams of their accusers – they will have no Righteous Defence, for they have become their own worst enemy of self-destruction - they have become dark, empty self-absorbed entities who have lived only for themselves, yet without any true, Eternal Benefits, which are granted by God. Tragically, they have no INNER DIVINE LIGHT SHINING
FORTH, SPREADING GOODNESS, PEACE AND HAPPINESS AMONGST ALL WHO SURROUND THEM. UNSELFISH BEAUTY THAT BLOOMS HERE ON EARTH WILL GO ON IN TIME TO UNFADING ETERNAL BEAUTY.

CHRIST TAUGHT US ABOUT A LIFE THAT WAS FREE

from anger, lust and greed, and people would eagerly listen to Him for many hours, forgetting all about food and rest. He taught us, among other things: “You are the Light of the world... Let your Light so shine before mankind, that they may see your Good Works, and Glorify your Father Who is in Heaven...”
(MATTHEW 5: 14 & 16)

And He also taught us, after having grant sight to the man who had been born without eyes: “I Am the Light of the world...” (JOHN 9:5) Who, then, is the Light? Is it our Lord Jesus Christ or the people who are Faithful to Him? Was there not possibly a slip of the tongue or a contradiction with these words? No! Certainly not! THESE WORDS OF OUR LORD JESUS
CONCISELY INDICATE THE CAUSE (ALMIGHTY EFFECT (WHAT HAPPENS TO HIS FAITHFUL DISCIPLES.)
GOD)

Life manifests (reveals) itself in Light. Life is Light – it is the clarity of direction and growth. Beauty , too, is Divine Light – a special, hidden Light that comes from deep within our heart. This means that Life and Beauty are one and the same: if both are present, it is Real and True Life.

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THE MEANING OF LIFE IS TO SERVE GOD AT ALL TIMES AND THEREBY TO DRAW EVER CLOSER AND CLOSER TO HIM – so close as to be able to reside with Him

AND

He once explicitly proclaimed : “I Am the Light of the world: he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life...”
(JOHN 8 : 12)

THE LIGHT OF LIFE AND ITS BEAUTY IN US ARE EXCLUSIVELY FROM GOD.

Many of us have heard about the Black Holes in outer space, which may be formed by exploding stars that have collapsed from blazing giants into super-dense small areas that consist of the most extraordinary and terrifyingly intense gravity that pulls everything around it into its centre wherein time and space appear to have switched roles – and from whence not even a glimpse of light can escape! Whatever the actual nature of these cosmic phenomena, everything that is sucked into them disappears completely and irretrievably! Black Holes are fathomless chasms of intense nothingness – like the deep Abyss of absolute hopelessness and Outer Darkness! Those who are obsessed with laying up for themselves “... treasures upon earth...” and who live only for their own self-indulgent benefit and comfort, are frighteningly reminiscent of these dreadful, sucking Black Holes – great gaping chasms that overwhelm and engulf all Light and Beauty of God’s Divine Creation! How many Black Holes are there out there? And what if our entire Milky Way Galaxy was consumed by one! God Forbid! So we constantly beseech our Loving Lord God to watch over and to Protect us from all such terrifying threats and dangers – the known and the unknown. Clearly, those who are like these destructive Black Holes, driven by their egos and subsequent

in Eternity – forever. And we always meet and behold God in other people! To sum up: a Beautiful Life is one that is granted to another person – to one special person or, preferably, to many – without self-serving or calculation, but with a clear mind and at the behest of a sincere, loving heart. A SPIRITUAL LIGHT ILLUMINATES SUCH LIFE, and within it, everything else shines brightly – everything gives off a glowing warmth: eyes, words, deeds and even our human nature. If we really care for True Beauty, then we must not chase after the deceptive, false temptations of this limited time: do not obsess over the latest fashions and fads, personal appearance and adornments – nor become enmeshed in the need for possessions and ‘entertainment,’ which more often than not, draws us very quickly away from God and one another. NONE OF THESE BENEFITS US ETERNALLY!! Do not waste your time chasing after the temporary, useless distractions with which the fallen world tries to mislead us – for although it is good to ‘relax’ a little, WE MUST CONSTANTLY WATCH OURSELVES SO THAT WE DO NOT BECOME ENSLAVED to the distractions of the material world that so easily divert our attention and misguide us.
IT IS FAR BETTER TO LIVE PURELY AND CORRECTLY, BEING GUIDED BY CHRIST’S DIVINE TEACHINGS AND COMMANDMENTS every moment of the day, and just as bad habits are so easy to adopt, rather DEVELOP ‘GOOD HABITS’ THAT DRAW US EVER CLOSER TO GOD AND TO EACH OTHER.

Then, certainly, we shall enjoy a Most Beautiful Life – now and Eternally!
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUNG PEOPLE: ON GOD, LOVE, AND BEAUTY” BY FATHER PAUL KATASCHEV – www.pravmir.com/the-light-ofthe-world

T h e E t e r n a l , I n s p i r e d W i s d o m o f o u r H o l y Ch u r c h F a t h e r s
St Seraphim Of Sarov “In spite of our sinfulness, in spite of the darkness “And when the sinner turns to the Way of surrounding our souls, the Grace of the Holy Repentance the Light smoothes away every Spirit, conferred by Baptism in the Name of trace of the sins committed, clothing the the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, former sinner in the Garments of Incorruption, still shines in our hearts with the spun of the Grace of the Holy Spirit.” inextinguishable Light of Christ ... St Maximos The Confessor "Just as the thought of fire does not warm the body, so Faith without Love does not actualize the Light of Spiritual Knowledge in the soul."

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